Edinburgh school staff to go on strike next month after latest pay deal is rejected by Unison

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Edinburgh staff due to walk out of schools next month in pay dispute

School support staff at Edinburgh schools are due to walk out in a fortnight’s time as part of a long-running pay dispute with local government body Cosla.

Unison union members in Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Fife will strike on Wednesday, November 8. It is unclear at this stage how many Edinburgh schools will be impacted by this industrial action, as some staff are members of other unions which accepted the latest pay offer.

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The action will come a week after members in Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde walk out on Wednesday November 1, as part of a rolling programme of action previously announced by the union.

Unison members at Edinburgh schools will walk out on November 8.Unison members at Edinburgh schools will walk out on November 8.
Unison members at Edinburgh schools will walk out on November 8.

It comes after Unison members voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla's latest pay offer which the union claims amounts to a "real-terms pay cut".

Unison Scotland's head of local government Johanna Baxter said: "Despite our repeated calls for Cosla and the Scottish Government to get back round the table for meaningful discussions we have had no invitations to even exploratory talks.

"The union is committed to reaching a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible. And there is still time for Cosla and the Scottish Government to get back round the negotiating table to explore every avenue to reaching a negotiated settlement and avoid further disruption for parents and students.

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"The strength of feeling amongst Unison's 91,000 local government members, who voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla's latest pay offer, is clear. They are determined to continue to fight to get an improved pay offer."

A large proportion of schools in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire will be closed during the strikes next Wednesday. In Glasgow all nurseries and primary schools, and additional support learning schools, will close on November 1, while secondary schools in Glasgow will only be open for S4-S6, except for Glasgow Gaelic Secondary School which will be closed to all pupils.

Unison Scotland chair of the local government committee Mark Ferguson said: "The current offer amounts to a real-terms pay cut and adds further stress to a dedicated workforce already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis.

"Cosla and the Scottish Government need to give school staff a decent wage rise, fund any increase properly and commit to implementing a minimum underpinning rate of pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers."

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Speaking to the PA news agency, First Minister Humza Yousaf said there will be no more money for local authorities to offer increased pay to staff. "There is no more funding, I've been really clear about that," he said.

"We have significant additional funding in order to get a really good pay deal on the table for our local government workers, and that's why two out of three trade unions have accepted the deal."

Unite and the GMB suspended planned action after the deal, which represents a minimum increase of £2,006 for workers on the Scottish local government living wage and at least £1,929 for those above that rate, was accepted by their members. But 90 per cent of Unison members voted in a ballot to reject it.

The pay rise will be introduced on April 1 next year based on a 37-hour working week. The living wage of £10.85 will rise to £11.89 per hour - equivalent to a 9.6 per cent increase.

The offer also means council leaders will establish an advisory group to achieve a minimum of £15 per hour in local government.