Trade union warns that ‘same mistakes’ of last year being repeated

Unite the union confirmed today (13 June) that it is has served notice to all thirty-two Scottish councils that strike ballots are imminent in the escalating dispute over pay.

Thousands of key council workers within the schools and early years services will now participate in the targeted strike action ballots. This includes janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff. 

Unite members employed by Tayside Contracts who provide catering and janitorial services to schools across Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross councils are also included in the ballot.

The ballots will open on Monday 19 June and close on 31 July.  

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has repeatedly warned both the Scottish Government and COSLA for months that widespread strike action will be inevitable for the second year in a row unless the pay offer is increased. 

The prediction is a step closer with ballots opening across all thirty-two Scottish councils involving thousands of our members. This is happening because COSLA and the Scottish Government are asking our members to swallow a punishing real terms wage cut. This is totally unacceptable. Unite will always stand up for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”

The latest development follows Unite members emphatically rejecting the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) 5 per cent pay offer for 2023 in May by 84 per cent in a consultative ballot. The current rate of broader inflation (RPI) stands at 11.4 per cent.

Unite has recently demanded that the First Minister, Humza Yousaf, directly intervene in the pay dispute following what it describes as a ‘collapse’ in negotiations with COSLA.  

The trade union further criticised COSLA’s failure to approach the Scottish Government to financially support a fairer pay offer for council workers as repeating the ‘same mistakes’ of last summer. 

 Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer said: “Unite has served notice to all thirty-two councils that we will ballot our members from 19 June. There has been zero acknowledgement by COSLA that the current 5 per cent offer is nowhere near good enough. 

 In fact, they are burying their heads in the sand and once again wishing this all goes away. Negotiations with COSLA are in effect over because they will not approach the Scottish Government to assist with an improved wage offer. After last year’s dispute, you would think that some lessons have been learned but that doesn’t appear to be the case with the same mistakes being repeated.”