'Edinburgh doing everything it can to avert strikes during festivals', says council leader Cammy Day as he criticises Scottish Government handling
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The return of the Edinburgh Fringe and other festivals this month has been partially overshadowed by a wave of industrial action fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis.
Train services have been significantly reduced and a new bin strike is set to last through to August 30.
Cllr Day, leader of Edinburgh council and Labour group leader, said he accepted the bin strike would be “disruptive” and “unpleasant” for the next 12 days, but stressed the local authority was doing everything it could to stop further action.
In an interview with BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Cllr Day urged the Scottish Government to tap into “rainy day reserves” instead of “shamefully” walking away from pay discussions.
Cllr Day said he respected trade unions line to strike given inflation is 10.1 per cent and the pay award so far has been somewhere around 3.5 per cent.
The leader of Edinburgh Council said he would like to “at least” get to the point of a 5 per cent pay rise, as suggested by council umbrella body Cosla.
He said: "Edinburgh is doing everything we can to avert the strikes. I’m meeting the trade unions every other day and if there’s a quicker solution to end this action, then I’ll absolutely be working with the trade unions to resolve that. We want to get services back to normal as quickly as we can for the capital.”
Cllr Day said no private contractors would be brought in. But he said in some areas such as care homes, early years centres or any areas “where there is risk to fire or health and safety”, council workers would continue to provide a “basic service”.
National rail strikes continue to bring more disruption to the city and Cllr Day has urged both governments to resolve this as he said the festivals were still busy and popular “as ever” despite strikes.
The Scottish Government has provided Cosla with £140 million for a wage increase across councils and said the umbrella body now needed to match that.
However, Cllr Day said: “Cosla have already put in over different authorities somewhere between 2 and 3 per cent and the Government has came up with the equivalent to 1.5 per cent. So the SNP and Green Government have reduced funding to local authorities over the last decade.
"We will do everything we can to put more on the table, but for the Scottish Government to just walk away and say that’s our final offer without getting round the table for further discussions as has been agreed by Cosla by last Friday is quite shameful to me.”
Cllr Day said the Government sat with “hundreds of millions of pounds” in reserves they were keeping for “a rainy day”.
"I would ask that that rainy day funding is tapped into now and is put on the table to help low paid workers get a fair pay for a fair pay’s work”, he Day said.
The council leader’s advice to people in Edinburgh was to “bear with” the council, keep an eye on the authority’s website for advice and keep rubbish in gardens if possible.