West Lothian Council leader calls for strike deal funding

The leader of West Lothian Council has warned that the pay deal offered to end strikes by cleanisng staff across Scotland should not be allowed to impact on local services.
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All three unions representing council staff have recommended acceptance of the new deal brokered on Friday in talks between the unions and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. It remains uncertain what the costs of the new proposals will be however, and whether the Holyrood administration alone will have to shoulder those costs without more cash from Westminster.

But West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick was clear that councils needed to be given funding from the Scottish Government.

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He said: “I am relieved that the strike has been suspended and that a settlement would appear to be in reach.

West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick.West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick.
West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick.

“Local government workers deserve better pay, and pay that is in line with others within the public sector.

“I think the recent strike action has brought home to many people how vital council services are on so many levels. Funding local government is vital to ensure we have good local services.

“What is imperative, at all times, is that councils are properly funded by the Scottish Government so that this is not a trade off between paying staff what they deserve and what local services can be delivered.”

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A new offer will mean a 10 per cent pay rise for the lowest paid staff instead of special cost of living payments this year and next.

The Unison, GMB and Unite unions all said they had suspended their industrial action while they consulted their members on the new pay offer, and they recommended acceptance.

The new pay offer details: An increase of £2,000 for those earning up to £20,500; An increase of £1,925 for those earning between £20,500 to £39,000; A five per cent increase for those earning between £39,000 to £60,000; A maximum increase of £3,000 for those earning above £60,000; The removal of social care registration fees; One extra day of annual leave

A spokesman for West Lothian Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “In terms of the financial impact, this will be worked on by the accountants now and details provided at the quarterly budget monitoring report that I believe is out the first week in October.”

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Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government would have to make difficult choices to help pay for the pay deal.

She said: “People are struggling and obviously it is a good deal for the public because it averts any possibility of industrial action and I’m particularly grateful to trade unions for suspending the strike action planned for next week.

“The Scottish government has a finite budget so there are going to be some difficult decisions to support this deal but it is important we do support the best deals for workers.”

For GMB national spokesman Keir Greenaway said the new offer was a “significant amount of consolidated money” for workers including the “frontline refuse and school staff that everyone depends on”.

Unite said the agreement had been reached after the direct intervention of the First Minister.

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