No new money

Bin workers’ strikes spread as talks stall

An overflowing bin in Haymarket, Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden)

Strikes among bin workers have spread to a further 13 Scottish local authorities after the Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it was up to the umbrella body Cosla to agree a pay settlement.

Trade unions said the strike, which has led to rubbish piling up in the streets of Edinburgh, would continue.

They rejected the latest offer, saying they needed more detail about how a 5% offer would apply to the lowest paid workers.

Cosla said it had a productive meeting with trade unions on Tuesday, but the three unions said no agreement had been reached and called for more funding from the Scottish government.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway said: “The fact that Cosla couldn’t even commit to the basic principle of a flat rate offer which would help the lowest paid is bitterly disappointing and frankly shameful.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said he had already offered £140m of new money – about 50% of the total funding [£277m] needed to cover the pay rise – but was restrained by having a fixed budget. Offering more would mean taking it away from other services.

Mr Swinney blamed the Labour and Conservative representatives on Cosla for refusing to support the latest offer.

“It would have been helpful if the local government leaders had put the offer to the unions immediately after I gave them the extra money,” he told reporters.

He added that the local authorities, not the government, were the employers and they had to negotiate with the trade unions.

He said it was an “unacceptable situation just now” but he was constrained legally from borrowing for resource spending and encouraged all parties to get around the table.

Meanwhile, the GMB Scotland union has confirmed strike action for schools and early years services in Glasgow City Council and East Renfrewshire Council.

The strikes from 6-8 September involve cleaning, janitorial, catering and pupil support services.

Formal notices were served to the respective council chief executives for the withdrawal of over 1,200 staff in Glasgow and 150 staff in East Renfrewshire.

GMB’s Mr Greenaway said: “These latest strike dates are a direct response by our members to the ongoing failure by political leaders to confront the biggest cost of living crisis in forty years.”

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