Edinburgh school strikes 2023: All schools in Edinburgh set to shut - all you need to know including dates
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More than three quarters of Scotland’s schools face disruption within weeks as Unison confirmed more than 21,000 staff will stage a walkout from September 26 to 28. The industrial dispute over pay involves non-teaching staff including catering, cleaning, pupil support, administration and janitorial workers in schools and early years centres.
It comes after crunch talks with employer COSLA have failed. Strike action will affect primary and secondary schools in 24 local authorities, a total of 1,868 schools, including all of Edinburgh’s 123 schools.
Unison, Scotland’s largest local government union, served 14 days’ notice of the coordinated strike action to employers on Thursday, September 7.
Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland’s head of local government, said: “Going on strike is always a last resort – our members want to be in schools supporting children not on picket lines outside them. But they have been left with no option. Local government workers overwhelmingly rejected COSLA’s below-inflation pay offer back in March and despite our repeated representations no improvement has been forthcoming.
“A real-terms pay cut in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis is a cut our members simply cannot afford. This is not a highly-paid workforce - three quarters of local government workers earn less than the average Scottish wage. All they want is to be paid fairly for the vital work they do supporting Scotland’s communities – COSLA and the Scottish Government need to get back round the table and work with us to deliver that.”
Unions have rejected an average pay increase of 5.5 per cent with a 99p an hour rise in the living wage for the lowest paid. They said it was a below inflation offer. Members voted ‘overwhelmingly' for strike action, in the biggest ever vote for strike action in schools in Scotland.
It’s understood that council leaders have agreed to make an extra £10m available to fund an improved pay offer in a bid to avert strikes by Unison, Unite and GMB members. But any improved pay offer, which must be agreed by all 32 councils, is likely to fall short of what unions want. The Scottish Government has told COSLA it will not provide any more money to fund a pay deal.
The union told the Evening News there have been no further offers, no requests for further talks and no approaches to the Scottish government.
Unison members in 24 of the 32 council areas voted to strike, as did Unite members in 10 areas. Mark Ferguson, chair of Unison Scotland’s local government committee, said: "Our members are steadfast in their resolve to fight for fair pay. COSLA’s offer falls short of Unison’s pay claim, it is also less than the offer made to the lowest paid local government staff south of the border. No-one wants to see schools close but COSLA needs to come back with a significantly improved pay offer very soon if strike action is to be avoided. We remain committed to engaging in negotiations with COSLA and the Scottish Government at any point to try to resolve this dispute.”
COSLA was contacted for comment.