Local Government unions have today issued notices of industrial action to local authorities across Scotland in a dispute over pay for council workers.

The Joint Trade Unions have between them mandates to take action in half of Scotland’s local authority areas.  Today they have notified COSLA that they have served notices to those authorities, and that they will be calling out members employed in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial, waste, recycling and fleet maintenance services on the 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 November.

It is understood that this could be the start of an escalating period of action if the employers do not change their position. 

The Joint Trade Unions have also written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Local Government and Education calling on them to intervene saying that it is not credible for the Scottish Government to wash their hands of local government workers by arguing technicalities of the bargaining machinery. 

It is now more than 10 months since the Joint Trade Unions submitted their pay claim, on behalf of the 200k local government workers covered by the Scottish Joint Council negotiating machinery, and 19 months into a global pandemic which has seen them working flat out on the frontline with no reward.   

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite’s members across eleven local authorities will be taking targeted strike action due to the abject failure by COSLA and the Scottish Government to pay workers a fair and decent wage. The incredible professionalism and sacrifice by local government workers has not been recognised during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Unite’s members will no longer tolerate being treated as the poor relation in our public services.

"School cleaners, caterers and janitors alongside fleet maintenance, waste and refuse workers are saying enough is enough. Let’s be clear that this situation has arisen because COSLA and the Scottish Government are forcing local government workers into taking industrial action due to their derisory pay offer. Both have a duty to get back round the negotiating table with a new offer or industrial unrest is imminent.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government said: “It is the combined failure of both COSLA and the Scottish government to reward these key workers that has led to the situation where we have now been forced to issue notice of targeted strike action. 

"Our members are at breaking point and are worth more than what is on offer – it is deeply regrettable that they should have to withdraw their labour for the employer to recognise their worth. Over 55% of LG workers earn below £25k per year, and the vast majority have received no reward at all for their efforts during the Covid pandemic.  The current offer does not even bring the lowest paid LG workers up to £10 per hour."

Drew Duffy, GMB Senior Organiser said: “Scottish Politicians have failed to value Local Government workers throughout this pandemic and so many of these worker are low paid key workers. Today, thousands of these low paid workers will be telling their employer that they will be going on strike across Schools and Waste to fight for a decent pay rise. Scottish Council leaders and Scottish ministers have let these workers down by failing to value the work they do so these workers will now be forced to close schools and leave household waste uncollected to force these leaders to pay then what they deserve. It’s been over 18 months since any of these key workers had a pay rise and that is a disgrace given the work they have done over the last 18 months.”