Trade union slams ‘ineptitude’ of COSLA and Scottish Government

Unite the union can confirm today (7 September) that thousands of key workers in schools and early years services across 11 Scottish Councils will take strike action on three consecutive days.

Coordinated action involving the joint trade unions will take place on 26, 27 and 28 September. Unite’s local government membership set to strike includes janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff.

The councils affected are follows:

Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and Orkney (see notes to editor). 

Unite received a mandate from its members employed by Tayside Contracts who provide catering and janitorial services to schools across Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross councils. These members will also join the strike action.

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “COSLA and the Scottish Government have been given warning after warning that strike action will be inevitable unless there is an improved pay offer. The entire blame for this situation is down to COSLA’s ineptitude, and the Scottish Government’s dithering.”   

“Unite’s hard working council members deserve far more than five per cent. They will have their union’s total support in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”

In June, Unite stated that the negotiations with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) had in effect ‘collapsed’. This was due to a failure on the part of the local government body to request additional financial resources from the Scottish Government to fund an improved pay offer above 5 per cent.

The trade union also demanded that the First Minister, Humza Yousaf, directly intervene in the pay dispute. If there was a failure to do so, Unite further warned that both COSLA and the Scottish Government were in danger of repeating the ‘same mistakes’ made in last summer’s pay dispute. 

Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, added:  “Unite members across 11 Councils will now take strike action in a matter of weeks. The coordinated strike action will result in hundreds of schools being closed for three consecutive days across Scotland.”

“Unite has warned the Scottish Government and COSLA for months but they have collectively buried their heads in the sand. COSLA has failed to make an improved offer, and refused to approach the Scottish Government for more resources.”

“Government Ministers have watched from the sidelines and allowed this dispute to escalate to the point of strike action. It’s really a dereliction of duty on the part of the politicians who seem happier blaming each other rather than sorting out this pay dispute.” 

In May, the trade union which spearheaded last year’s local government pay dispute, revealed that its members emphatically rejected the 5 per cent offer for 2023 by 84 per cent in a consultative ballot.


Notes to editor

  1. Unite re-balloted our members in North and South Lanarkshire Councils, and those employed by Tayside Contracts who have now supported strike action. This accounts for the increase in the original mandates across 10 Councils highlighted in 7 August 2023 press release.
  2. Unite has a mandate for strike action in Argyll and Bute Council but no strike action will involve these members in this instance.