Education and waste services in new councils join nationwide dispute

Unite the union has confirmed today (25 August) that it has now served notice of strike action in education and waste services hitting 20 councils across Scotland.

On Tuesday, Unite confirmed that its local government committee rejected outright the current 5 per cent pay offer from COSLA.

Talks involving the trade unions with the Deputy First Minister in Edinburgh took place last night (Wednesday) and despite being ‘constructive’ there was no breakthrough, and there remains no new offer on the table.

Unite can today confirm that its members in waste services currently taking strike action in 14 councils will take another eight days action from 6 to 13 September.

A further 5 councils are set to join this second phase of strike action in waste services in the following areas: Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Dunbartonshire, Fife and North Ayrshire.

In another new development Unite’s members in schools and early years services across 7 councils are scheduled to take three days of strike action on 6, 7, 8 and 9 September in the following areas: Angus, Dundee, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, and South Lanarkshire.  

The days of action vary depending on the council (see notes to editor). Unite’s members in schools and early years services include administrative staff, cleaners, caterers, and classroom assistants.

Unite members employed by Tayside Contracts who provide catering and janitorial services to schools across Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross councils will also strike. In total this means 20 councils will be directly impacted by Unite’s strike action.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members across local government are taking strike action because the politicians have failed them miserably. We now plan to spread this action across 20 councils in education and waste services. For five months COSLA and the Scottish Government have dithered and bickered with each other while our members have increasingly faced a cost of living crisis. We will fully support them in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

For more than half of local government workers, COSLA’s latest offer represents an offer of between £900-£1,250. In comparison the UK Government is offering council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland a £1,925 flat rate pay offer.

Unite estimates that more than 2,000 members will be involved in the coordinated and targeted strike action involving education and waste services across Scotland.

Unite industrial officer Wendy Dunsmore added: “Unite will now deepen and spread our strike action across two thirds of the country. This is a direct response to the abject failure by both COSLA and the Scottish Government to fund a fair pay offer particularly for the lowest paid. It’s a disgrace that schools and early years services now face closure causing further disruption to families. The politicians need to get a grip of this situation which they have let happen due to their politicking and stalling. It’s time for the politicians to realise the gravity of this dispute and take responsibility before this situation dramatically escalates.”

It is reported that more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 council workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week.


Notes to Editor:

Waste Services Strike Action

18 August and ends on 30 August – Edinburgh

24 to 31 August (8 days action) - Aberdeen City, Angus, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian. 

6 to 13 September (8 days action) – Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Angus, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian.

Schools and Early Years Strike Action – 3 days action

6, 7, 8 September – East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire.

7, 8, 9 September - Angus Council, Dundee City and Tayside Contracts – served notice.


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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.