Councils dispute

Strikes off after Cosla makes improved offer

Auld Reekie: litter piled up in the streets of Edinburgh during the festival (pic: Terry Murden)

Union leaders have suspended further strike action among council workers and are recommending members accept a fourth revised pay offer.

Under the latest proposal, the lowest paid workers – those earning up to £20,000 – would receive £2,000 and there will be a cap on higher earners.

Staff earning between £20,000 and £39,000 would get £1,900, and those with salaries between £39,000 and £60,000 will get 5%. 

The latest offer from local authority umbrella group Cosla follows direct intervention by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who chaired talks on Thursday between Cosla and union bosses at St Andrews House in Edinburgh. 

Unions rejected an initial 3% offer which led to the walk out by bin staff in Edinburgh and caused piles of rubbish to accumulate in the city centre during the peak of the festival season.

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A further 13 councils joined the industrial action after revised offers were rejected. A clean-up operation has been under way this week.

SNP Cosla group leader Dougie Reid said: “I am delighted that we have managed to reach a fair pay deal that all Cosla parties have agreed – our council employees deserve to have their hard work properly valued.

“The deal brokered and proposed by the SNP focuses particularly on the needs and interests of our lower paid employees.

“Given the financial challenges facing budgets in Scotland, I am grateful for the way the Scottish Government and Cosla have stepped up so that the funding and flexibilities needed have been provided.

“It’s not been easy but we have managed to find a package that I hope the unions can now recommend to their members – and we can get money into people’s bank accounts at the earliest opportunity to help meet the increasing cost of living.”

GMB Scotland senior organiser for public services 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.

“Most importantly, we want to pay tribute to our members. Strike action is not easy, it requires sacrifice and solidarity to deliver outcomes that make work better, and they have fought long and hard for an improved offer to help confront this cost-of-living crisis.” 

Commenting on the latest offer, Scottish Labour local government spokesperson Mark Griffin said: “This news will come as a relief to millions of Scots and our hard-pressed council workers – but the blame for these weeks of chaos lies squarely with this SNP government.

“Communities across Scotland have suffered weeks of disruption and disarray due to the intransigence of this SNP government.

“It is simply not good enough that it took weeks of industrial action to embarrass the SNP government into action. 

“This will not be the last industrial dispute of the year. With sector after sector balloting for action, the SNP government must realise that it cannot continue to approach industrial relations in this slapdash and damaging fashion. 

Scottish Labour will continue to hold this government to account and do all that we can to deliver justice for Scotland’s communities and workers.”

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