UK

Strikes set to go ahead as unions reject ‘unacceptable’ council pay offer

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trikes in cleansing and education are set to go ahead next week after unions rejected the latest “unacceptable” offer from local authorities.

After negotiations over the weekend, Unite’s local government committee rejected outright an offer from council umbrella body Cosla, while GMB Scotland also turned the deal down.

According to the Scottish Government, the deal included a payment of at least £1,925 for council staff, with those earning £20,000 receiving £2,000.

But Unite said the payment could be as low as £989 for some employees, with 85% receiving between £1,925 and £2,000, and any payment would not be recurring.

The offer remains unacceptable and it represents a waste of precious time

Cosla has not confirmed the terms of the deal.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway said the unions pushed for a flat rate increase, rather than one based on a percentage of current wage, claiming that Cosla tabled a deal that “only feathers the nests of service directors”.

Mr Greenaway added that if Cosla does not return to talks “as soon as possible”, then the union’s local government committee will outline plans to “fully consult GMB members”.

As a result of the rejection, strike action across the country in education and cleansing will go ahead next week unless a deal can be reached before then.

Action by cleansing workers in Edinburgh in recent weeks led to rubbish littering the streets of the capital during one of the busiest times of the year for tourism, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Staff are slated to return on Tuesday.

Unite members in other authorities also walked out this weekend, and are due to return on Wednesday.

Overflowing bins on the streets of Edinburgh where cleansing workers from the City of Edinburgh Council are on strike (Andrew Milligan/PA) / PA Wire

Wendy Dunsmore, the union’s industrial officer, said: “Unite has rejected outright the latest pay offer from Cosla.

“The structure of the offer continues to disproportionately and unfairly affect the lowest paid with the majority of those being women.

“In real terms it leaves the lowest paid workers no better off and a significant proportion of the offer does not enhance overtime, allowances or pensions.

“The offer remains unacceptable and it represents a waste of precious time.

“We understand the gravity of the situation across the country but equally our members are facing the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.

“Unite’s strike action remains scheduled for next week unless Cosla gets back to us with a credible offer which addresses our primary concerns.”

Cosla… tabled this offer as an across-the-board percentage rise that only feathers the nests of service directors

Mr Greenaway added: “A flat rate award is a key demand from unions to ensure more consolidated money goes into the pockets of frontline workers and not the highest paid in our councils.

“Cosla knew this but instead tabled this offer as an across-the-board percentage rise that only feathers the nests of service directors.

“This was unacceptable to our local government committee members. It’s not credible that in the grip of the biggest cost-of-living crisis in 40 years, and with inflation and energy bills soaring, a head of service gets four times the consolidated increase than a bin collector, cleaner or carer.

“That’s why we have written to Cosla again this evening urging them to return to talks as soon as possible and to negotiate a new offer based on a flat rate increase.

“If they don’t do this then when our committee reconvenes tomorrow we will outline our plans to fully consult GMB members.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said “no deal is perfect”, adding that this offer provided “significant increases for low-paid staff”.

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