School strikes across much of Scotland continue for a second day

Children across Scotland face a second day of disruption as school support staff take another day of strike action in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Members of Unison working as pupil support assistants, catering staff, cleaners and school janitors will stage the second day of their three-day strike across 24 council areas over a pay deal the union’s Scottish secretary Lilian Macer dubbed “too little, too late and too vague” on Tuesday.

She said: “The offer we’re looking for is significantly above what has been offered. We are seeking the Scottish Government to come round the table with Cosla, with Unison, to negotiate a fair pay settlement for local government workers in Scotland.”

GMB Scotland and Unite have suspended strikes while they consider the latest offer from council umbrella body Cosla.

Unison has a mandate to strike across 24 council areas on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday which will see many schools across the country close to pupils. Schools will be open as usual in the eight other council areas.

Some regions have come up with compromises to allow education to continue despite strikes.

Highland Council said 27 of its schools are expected to remain open while Glasgow City Council said high schools will be open for S4-S6 pupils only.

First Minister Humza Yousaf urged for strikes to be reconsidered and said he believed it “is a very good offer indeed” but Ms Macer called on him to get in touch and warned without a “significantly” improved offer more strikes are on the cards.

First Minister’s Questions
Shona Robison said the dispute was a matter for local government employers and unions (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mark Ferguson, chair of Unison Scotland’s local government committee, said: “The offer is still below the rate of inflation meaning that local government workers are being asked to take a real-terms pay cut during a cost-of-living crisis.”

A spokesperson for Cosla said: “This is a very strong offer that equates to 10% or £2,006 for the lowest paid at the request of the trade unions.

“Throughout these negotiations we have met every request of our trade union colleagues.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Shona Robison, said pay negotiations were a matter for local government employers and unions and that the Scottish Government would “encourage” those involved to continue negotiations in the hope that a resolution could be found.

She said: “We have worked constructively in partnership with Cosla and councils to find a solution, facilitated by an additional £80 million of funding and flexibility from the Scottish Government.

“We have ensured there will be no detrimental impact on jobs or services as a result of this additional funding.

“Despite UK Government cuts, the Scottish Government had already provided £155 million in 2023-24 to support a meaningful pay rise for local government workers, and provided assurances over funding in 2024-25.”

She said affected local authorities will ensure that schools and learning establishments remain open as far as is practical.