Unions and councils need to compromise to avoid a summer of Scottish strikes

Renfrewshire workers on the picket line -Credit:Andrew Neil
Renfrewshire workers on the picket line -Credit:Andrew Neil

The last thing parents and pupils want in the next few months is a round of school closures brought about by strike action. With a reported rat epidemic in our biggest city, we can't have hardpressed cleansing workers downing tools.

With the cost-of-living crisis still biting and family budgets under huge strain, there is also a greater need than ever for local community services. But a summer of discontent with council strikes hitting vital services is exactly what Scotland is facing.

Councils are poised to offer staff a paltry two per cent pay rise while unions want a much better deal. The fact is both sides should get round the table at the earliest opportunity to avert strike action.

Compromise cannot be a dirty word in these negotiations as neither side will get everything they want. Unions have to realise finances are tight and the prospect of an inflation-busting rise is off the radar.

But councils must also acknowledge two per cent is not acceptable and a rise in line with inflation may be needed. Both sides agree that the Scottish Government has a key role to play in keeping services running.

It intervened last year to end strike action and must do so again if necessary. Ministers are not sitting on a pot of gold but they will have some contingency funding.

They, too, should get round the table and stop a dispute from spiralling into a full blown crisis. We can avoid a summer of strikes if councils, unions and government act as partners.

Sewage shocker

The rates of sewage getting dumped in Scotland's waterways are going up every year – with a record 21,000 incidents in 2023. Some Scots may think this is predominantly an issue affecting England but, as official figures show, that's not entirely true.

And it’s highly embarrassing for SNP and Green ministers that so many of the seats and regions they represent are rife with sewage dumping. Filthy wastewater spewed into rivers, lochs and seas in their backyards for hundreds of thousands of hours last year.

In the Glasgow region Greens minister Patrick Harvie represents, enough sewage was discharged to fill 2500 swimming pools. And, sadly, given Scottish Water only monitors a fraction of sewer overflow pipes, these stats are likely to be underestimates.

We all appreciate Scotland's beautiful waters – and water companies, regulators and politicians have a duty to keep them clean. This should be a wake-up call for ministers: stop sewage dumping in our rivers. Enough is enough.

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