SCOTS council workers are planning strike action, as unions warn “members are at breaking point”.
Action will be taken in half of Scotland’s local authority areas, in reaction to a pay dispute which the Joint Trade Unions have labelled an “abject failure” to provide “a fair and decent wage”.
The strike is due to last five days from November 8 to 12.
Services impacted will include school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial, waste, recycling and fleet maintenance services.
It has now surpassed ten months since a pay claim was submitted by the Joint Trade Unions on behalf of 200,000 local government workers.
Writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Local Government and Education, the unions have called for intervention and warned that if the Scottish Government does not change their position, the industrial action could be escalated.
The current dates will also coincide with COP26, an international climate conference coming to Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.
COSLA – the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which acts as an employers association – has been notified of the plans.
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.”
She explained that over 55% of local government employees earn less than £25,000 a year and the majority have not been rewarded for their efforts during the pandemic.
The current offer put forward would not bring the lowest paid workers up to £10 per hour.
Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, called out COSLA and the Scottish Government for their “abject failure” to give workers “a fair and decent wage”.
Praising the “incredible professionalism and sacrifice” of local government employees during the pandemic, she stated that “Unite’s members will no longer tolerate being treated as the poor relation in our public services”.
She said: “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.”
Drew Duffy, GMB Senior Organiser commented that “Scottish politicians have failed to value local government workers” and that they had been let down.
He said: “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 them 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 does over the last 18 months.”