Edinburgh bin strikes: Pay dispute, Cosla talks and September strikes - all you need to know

Bin workers are clearing away the mounds of rubbish that built up during their 12-day stoppage – but they are due to strike again next week.
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Is there going to be a settlement to the bin strikes?

Talks involving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the unions and Cosla took place late into the night on Thursday in a bid to find a resolution to the dispute over council workers’ pay which has already seen a 12-day bin strike in Edinburgh, similar stoppages elsewhere and threatens more industrial action next week.

All sides are being tight-lipped about how much progress was made, but one senior Unison official conceded the mood was more optimistic than it had been.

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Council leaders from across Scotland are meeting this morning to discuss whether they can make a fresh offer.

What’s the dispute all about?

Unions representing council staff are looking for a pay rise at a time when everyone is worried about the cost of living, energy prices are soaring and inflation is at a 40-year high of 10.1 per cent.

Bin workers are now clearing up the rubbish that piled up during their 12-day strike.Bin workers are now clearing up the rubbish that piled up during their 12-day strike.
Bin workers are now clearing up the rubbish that piled up during their 12-day strike.

The employers Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) first responded to the unions by making a two per cent offer, then upped it to 3.5 per cent and eventually five per cent, but the unions –Unison, Unite and the GMB – have rejected all of these.

What’s the latest offer?

Cosla’s latest offer is five per cent plus one-off cost-of-living payments for this year and next which would not become part of ongoing salary. These payments would bring the offer up to the same level as south of the border – £1,925. But the unions say the extra cash has to be consolidated into the basic wage. Otherwise when it comes to 2024 workers would be taking a pay cut.

What’s planned for next week?

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Bin workers, who were on strike in Edinburgh for 12 days up until Tuesday this week, are due to walk out again on Tuesday next week and stay out until the following Tuesday (September 13). Action is also scheduled in 18 other local authorities around Scotland, including East Lothian, West Lothian, Glasgow, Falkirk and Fife.

Six more areas, including Midlothian, will strike from Wednesday until Saturday.

Could the strikes be called off?

The talks last night and any new offer Cosla can agree are all aimed at averting further action. But the unions would have to decide whether any revised offer is enough to suspend the strikes while it is put to their members.

As soon as a revised offer is presented, the three unions would each be expected to convene their local government committees to consider whether it was something they could recommend to their members and whether to call off the planned strikes, at least for now.

Are schools going to be affected by strikes?

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Support staff in schools and nurseries in some local authorities are due to strike next week as part of the council workers’ dispute, but Edinburgh is not among the areas to be affected. None of the other Lothian council areas is included in this action either.