'Waste could pile high' warning as Scottish council workers vote to strike

Trade unions have warned “waste could pile high” in local authorities across Scotland after two unions confirmed their members will walk out over a “shameful” pay offer.

Council workers in the GMB and Unison at 13 local authorities across Scotland will walk out over a 2% pay increase offered to them by Cosla – the body representing local authorities.

Schools, early years workers and cleansing departments will down tools with dates yet to be confirmed.

Members in all councils across Scotland voted to reject the pay offer of 2% and secured turnouts surpassing the statutory 50% threshold for public sector ballots. In Edinburgh fewer than 50% of staff voted in favour of taking action.

Unison, along with Unite and GMB unions – who also represent council workers, have asked for a £3,000 increase and a £12 an hour rate as a minimum for all council workers.

Cosla leaders will meet on Friday and the Unison says they “must” put forward an improved offer on the table to avoid disruption to council services across Scotland.

Johanna Baxter, Unison head of local government, said: “Council workers south of the border yesterday were offered a flat rate uplift of £1,925, which for those on the lowest pay equates to a 10.5% increase.

“You have to wonder why council workers north of the border have only been offered a measly 2% increase when the cost of living continues to spiral.

Trade union leaders warn that scenes like this of uncollected refuse could be common across Scotland as council workers vote to strike over pay

“It is clear now that local government workers have had enough and are prepared to strike in the coming weeks unless we see a sensible offer, from Cosla, on the table on Friday.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway said: “Unless Ministers and Cosla make a significantly improved pay offer for the consultation of our members then strike action is happening across these vital services.

“The 2% cent that’s already been massively rejected is a shameful proposal, it’s worth less than a tenner a week extra for those earning £25,000 or under, and it will turn a cost-of-living crisis into a catastrophe for many workers and their families.

“Two years ago, these workers were applauded on the doorstep by political leaders, but now they are being told to suffer massive real terms pay cuts ahead of a brutal winter with forecasts of double-digit inflation and energy bills over £3,000.

“Our members are angry and scared, and the prospect of tens of thousands of council workers falling into the growing ranks of the working poor is not something GMB is prepared to leave unchallenged.”

Scottish Labour said it would “stand in solidarity” with the claims of the workforce for a fair and decent pay increase that meets the rising cost of living.

Councillor David Ross, leader of the Labour group at Cosla, and Mark Griffin MSP, local government spokesperson for the party said jointly blamed the Scottish Government for the dispute.

Scottish tory chairman Craig Hoy MSP added: “The root cause of this problem is the SNP Government – because they have systematically underfunded Scotland’s local authorities for years, making it impossible for councils to meet wage demands.

“This year alone, funding to local authorities was cut by £251 million in real terms, according to Cosla.

“Nicola Sturgeon must intervene immediately to prevent these catastrophic strikes going ahead.”