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by Kirsteen Paterson
02 September 2022
Cosla agrees new pay offer for striking council workers

Refuse workers were on strike in Edinburgh during the festival but have now returned to work

Cosla agrees new pay offer for striking council workers

Council leaders have put a fresh pay offer to trade unions in a bid to end strikes on bins and schools.

The move brings fresh hope of ending the dispute affecting services across many Scottish local authority areas.

All three unions, GMB Scotland, Unison and Unite, have said they will suspend such action as they put the deal before members.

Local government organisation Cosla has not revealed details of the deal. However, Unison has confirmed that it is worth a £2,000 rise to staff earning up to £20,000, the lower sum of £1,900 to those paid £20,000-£39,000 and five per cent to higher earners on £39,000-£60,000, with a cap of £3,000 established.

Unite said Nicola Sturgeon's intervention in lengthy talks on Thursday led to the breakthrough.

Members of the unions voted to strike over pay. Refuse collection and non-teaching staff strikes were scheduled for next week but have now been suspended.

Councillor Katie Hagmann, Cosla's resources spokesperson, thanked trade unions for "constructive discussions", saying: "The revised offer made shows that Scotland's council leaders have listened to the concerns of our workforce and have responded positively."

She went on: "We have sent letters to our union colleagues following today's meeting and hope that this enables strike action to be suspended and allows our workforce to get back to what they do best, delivering high quality essential services for the people within our communities."

The news comes as the EIS teaching union announces it is to open a consultative ballot on industrial action.

Labour MSP Mark Griffin said the deal news would be a "relief" to the public, but "the blame for these weeks of chaos lies squarely with this SNP government". He went on: "This will not be the last industrial dispute of the year. With sector after sector balloting for action, the SNP government must realise that it cannot continue to approach industrial relations in this slapdash and damaging fashion."

SNP Cosla group leader Dougie Reid said: "It's not been easy but we have managed to find a package that I hope the unions can now recommend to their members - and we can get money into people's bank accounts at the earliest opportunity to help meet the increased cost of living."

Johanna Baxter, Unison head of local government, said: "We now we have £600m on the table, which is a 7.5 per cent increase to the total pay bill and 87 per cent of our council workers will receive fully consolidated increases between five per cent to ten per cent. 

"Unison want to get this money into the pockets of council workers now while we continue the campaign to support peoplep through the cost of living crisis."

Keir Greenaway of GMB Scotland said it was not a "perfect" offer but one "worth of consideration".

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite’s lead negotiator for local government, said: "Unite wants to acknowledge the First Minister’s direct involvement as a primary reason for the breakthrough.

"We now have a credible offer which our local government representatives can recommend to the membership for acceptance."

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