Local government unions unite over rejecting council group's pay offer

A group of unions representing the bulk of government workers in Scotland have rejected a pay offer from a council body.

By Katharine Hay
Thursday, 1st April 2021, 8:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 10:34 pm
Striking local authority staff march through Edinburgh at a protest in 2008.
Striking local authority staff march through Edinburgh at a protest in 2008.

The Joint Trade Unions have today written to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) – the national association of Scottish councils – to turn down its recent pay offer.

Wendy Dunsmore, of union Unite, described the offer as “more like a slap in the face rather than a clap for local government workers.”

It has been slammed by the unions for containing no provision for restoring pay levels to pre-austerity levels, doing little to address issues of low pay and falls short of the flat rate or percentage increase outlined in their claim.

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The three trade unions said they will ballot their members to take action to secure an improved offer.

Ms Dunsmore added: “It’s particularly infuriating that social care workers who have helped keep our loved ones safe and supported at home, and helped prevent hospitalisation while our NHS was stretched beyond capacity, are not being recognised.

“Homeless workers, school workers keeping hubs open, refuse workers keeping our streets and homes clean, totally snubbed. The shocking reality is that more than half of all local government workers earn less than £25,000 a year with the majority of those being predominantly women.

"All these workers have stepped up and gone beyond the call of duty, many of them literally putting their lives on the line. It’s high time for COSLA and the next Scottish Government to do likewise or they shouldn’t be forgiven.”

The unions said COSLA has frequently praised the efforts of local government workers and previously committed to ensuring recognition and reward would given through pay negotiations, but they feel they have been let down in the recent offer.

Drew Duffy of GMB said: “Local Government workers have went above and beyond the call of duty for over 12 months now and up to now all that has been offered to the low paid workforce in councils amounts to less than £10 per week.

"GMB members are tired and feel undervalued so we will be asking our members across Scotland to reject this derisory offer over the next few weeks. We want to send a message along with all the trade union members that politicians must do more to value our members and that starts with a fair pay offer for these Covid heroes”.

Johanna Baxter from Unison Scotland head of local government, said: "According to COSLA’s own figures 55 per cent of the Scottish Local Government workforce earns less than £25k per annum – that’s over 100,000 workers earning significantly below the average wage of £32,000 per annum. The current offer does not address the issue of endemic low pay for these workers.

"Without these workers going above and beyond to keep services running over the past year their colleagues in the NHS would have been left without childcare, our mortuaries would have been overwhelmed, our children would have been left without an education and our elderly would have been left without care. Yet to date they have received no reward or recognition of their efforts at all. It’s simply not good enough.”

COSLA has been contacted for comment.

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