Strikes halted after unions receive new pay offer from council leaders

·4-min read

Council worker strikes due to go ahead in Scotland next week have been suspended after unions received a new pay offer from local authority leaders.

The three trade unions which took part in the industrial action – Unison, Unite and the GMB – agreed to suspend strikes in waste services and education.

Union members will now be consulted on the new deal.

Under the revised offer, workers earning up to £20,500 will receive increases of £2,000 a year.

There will be a £1,925 increase for those earning between £20,500 and £39,000, as well as a 5% increase for those earning between £39,000 to £60,000.

Those earning in excess of £60,000 will have a maximum increase of £3,000.

The dispute has seen piles of rubbish build up in city centres as waste workers went on strike.

The agreement comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hosted lengthy negotiations between local authorities body Cosla and unions at St Andrews House on Thursday night.

Ms Sturgeon told journalists she was “very pleased” a deal had been struck that would now be put to members.

The First Minister said: “I’m very pleased that we’ve reached this point, I think it’s good news for the public because it means we will not see the disruption of strike action next week, but I think the offer that has now been made is good for workers.

“That’s important – workers across the country are struggling with the cost of living and I want to see the fairest possible pay deals made.

“I’m very grateful to the trade unions for the constructive approach to talks that I convened yesterday, also to Cosla for their constructive approach too.

Cleansing workers strike
Unite said the offer was ‘credible’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“I hope we will now see trade union members accept this offer and we can see the fairest possible pay deal, but also assurance to the public we’re not going to see bin strikes or school strikes over the period ahead.”

Local authority leaders agreed the final terms of the new deal on Friday.

Johanna Baxter, Unison’s head of local government, said: “This offer is a victory for Unison members.

“It has taken eight months and the industrial might of Unison members in schools and early years and waste and recycling workers to drag £600 million out of the Scottish Government and Cosla and into the pockets of hardworking people.

“Cosla originally offered 2%, then 3.5%, then 5% – we now have £600 million on the table, which is a 7.5% increase to the total pay bill and 87% of our council workers will receive fully consolidated increases between 5% to 10%.”

She added: “It is only through the collective action of our members in school and early years staff threatening strike action and our waste and recycling workers taking action that we have forced these extra funds out of government and the employer.”

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite’s lead negotiator for local government, said: “Unite wants to acknowledge the First Minister’s direct involvement as a primary reason for the breakthrough.

“The offer on the table is fully consolidated and as such there will be more cash in the pot going forward for local government workers.

“It provides a degree of security for the lowest paid with a flat rate offer of £2,000 which is an uplift worth around 10% to 11%.

“We now have a credible offer which our local government representatives can recommend to the membership for acceptance.”

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway said: “GMB has been very clear that more must be done for the lowest paid in local government and this latest offer delivers a significant amount of consolidated money for these workers, including the frontline refuse and schools’ staff that everyone depends on.

“It’s not a perfect offer but it is the view of GMB Scotland’s local government committee that it’s worthy of members’ consultation and their acceptance, but ultimately our members whose campaigning and strike actions have improved these terms will have the final say.

“In the meantime, we have agreed to suspend all planned strike action so this consultation process can take place and our GMB organisers and workplace reps will be visiting as many workplaces as possible to engage our members on this.”