Edinburgh bin workers to strike this week as union rejects ‘paltry’ pay offer
Thursday’s bin strike in Edinburgh will go ahead after union members rejected a “derisory” pay offer from council leaders.
United said an improved offer was made by local authority body Cosla on Friday , after an initial 2% pay increase was rejected.
Its new proposal included an offer equivalent to a 3.5% increase.
At a meeting on Monday, Unison unanimously agreed to reject the revised offer outright and voted overwhelmingly to continue with their strike plans at councils across Scotland.
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Waste and recycling workers will walk out between August 26 and 29 as well as between September 7 and 10.
It will end in the Capital on August 30, the day after the end of the Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals
It is estimated that around 250 Unite members based in Edinburgh will participate in the ‘first wave’ of strike action.
Unite will be the largest trade union in terms of members involved in this initial phase of council strike action to hit all waste services.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Grahamm said: “Unite’s local government representatives have rejected the paltry offer of 3.5% from Cosla.
“The offer is nowhere near good enough. Council leaders across Scotland including Edinburgh and Glasgow are publicly on the record acknowledging this reality so why should our members even consider it.
“We make no apologies for standing up for our members because they deserve better than what they are getting from the politicians.
“Unite will always defend the jobs, pay and conditions of its members.”
Last week, Unite announced a ‘second wave’ of strike action to hit all waste services in 14 councils.
It is estimated that around 1,500 Unite members across these councils will join fellow council workers in Edinburgh on strike.
The days of strike action in these 14 councils will begin on August 24 and end on August 31.
Unite regional officer, Wendy Dunsmore, said: “Strike action will begin in Edinburgh this Thursday, and then roll-out across Scotland.
“We have the pathetic spectacle of Cosla and the Scottish Government doing a Hokey Cokey dance as they blame each other for the unacceptable pay offer. The fact is both of them are equally to blame.
“Our members are fed-up with this politicking because all they want is an offer put on the table which reflects their hard work, and helps them deal with the cost of living crisis hurting families across Scotland.”
It is reported that more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 council workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week.
Unite previously warned all new council leaders if they do not act to improve pay, they will see strikes this summer.
Scotland’s Social Justice and Local Government Secretary Shona Robison said on Friday that the new pay offer to council workers must be reconsidered “urgently” and described the latest proposal as “extremely disappointing”.
She said: “Despite the significant additional resources we have made available – more than half the amount Cosla asked us for in order to make a 5% offer – we understand there is only a 3.5% offer on the table.
“We urge Cosla to urgently reconsider its position to avoid industrial action.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that despite providing an extra £140 million of Scottish Government funding on a recurring basis to support a higher pay award for council staff – more than half the amount Cosla asked for in order to make a 5% offer – local government has only offered a 3.5% increase, which has now been rejected by the workforce.
“As the employers, these pay negotiations are a matter for local authorities and unions – the Scottish Government has no formal role. We urge Cosla to urgently reconsider its position and match the Scottish Government’s additional £140 million that would be required to increase the pay offer to 5%.
“The Scottish Government must balance a fixed budget with very significant competing demands as a consequence of the cost-of-living crisis and the inaction of the UK Government.
“The main tax levers are set for the whole year and cannot be changed. With no power to borrow for this spend, the extra £140 million has got to come from somewhere else within the budget and no more funding can be offered.”