Scotland bin strikes: Edinburgh will 'get back to normal' by the start of next week after bin clean-up, says council leader Cammy Day

Edinburgh will be “back to how it was” by Sunday or the start of next week, according to city council Cammy Day, as more councils brace to be impacted by future strikes.
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Cllr Day said both the Scottish government and council umbrella body Cosla must fix issues with a one-off consolidation payment to prevent further strikes from happening.

It comes as Cosla was urged to make a flat rate pay offer to council staff to resolve strike action.

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Unite, Unison and GMB rejected an offer that could have halted planned action in waste services and education impacting councils in many parts of the country, halting rubbish pick-ups and closing hundreds of schools.

Following a meeting with Deputy First Minister John Swinney, GMB organiser Keir Greenaway said union leaders had urged Mr Swinney to press councils into making a flat rate offer – rather than one based on a percentage increase to salaries.

“The message delivered on behalf of our members was clear – do more for the lowest paid workers by delivering a flat rate offer for their consultation,” he said.

At 4:59am on Tuesday, Edinburgh’s recent bin strike was over and a clean-up operation is now underway.

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Cllr Day said by Sunday or early into next week the Scottish capital would be “back to how it was” with most residual waste collected.

However, there are concerns this could all be undone if further bin strikes occur next week as no deal has been accepted by the unions.

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland, Cllr Day said: “We have another Cosla leader’s meeting scheduled this Friday, but I am disappointed there’s not been a deal on the table.

“I think there’s only probably one thing still hanging, which is the consolidation pay into the lowest paid and I think if Cosla and the Government could secure that I think we could have an offer to go back to the trade unions’ membership and stop bringing strikes, not only in Edinburgh, but across the whole of Scotland.”

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A second wave of strikes, which will include school workers, is due to begin in a bid to "achieve a significantly improved pay offer".

Hundreds of schools and nurseries across Scotland are scheduled to close from September 6 to 8.

A letter from East Renfrewshire Council to local parents seen by The Scotsman states all schools and early years establishments in the area will be closed on these days due to industrial action.

The council said, after reviewing staff availability in each establishment, they decided it would be “unsafe” to open on these days.

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After negotiations over the weekend, Unite’s local government committee rejected outright an offer from Cosla, while GMB Scotland also turned the deal down.

Unison said it would hold a consultative ballot of members this week on the offer and would recommend they reject it.

According to the Government, the deal included a payment of at least £1,925 for council staff, with those earning £20,000 receiving £2,000.

But Unite said the payment could be as low as £989 for some employees and any payment would not be recurring.

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Cllr Day said: “I think it’s a reasonable offer. The bounty payment, which it is being called by the trade unions, is a one-off payment which effectively means that payment would be dropped in a year's time and our colleagues would earn less than they did a year before. So I think there’s one last tool in the box that needs to be fixed and that’s the consolidation of that payment and if that was to be put back on the table, then the trade unions would maybe take a more positive outlook on that.”

Cllr Day said he appreciates councils are “cash-strapped”, but he called on the Government and Cosla to get back round the table and find a solution by Friday.

The Labour councillor said there had been calls for the past ten years for the Government to “properly and fairly” fund councils across Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said all options in making more funding available amid ongoing strikes have been “exhausted”.

However, Cllr Day said: “It’s unfair for the Government to say there’s no resources there when twice they have found in excess of £200 million to support this.”

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