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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
08 August 2023
Education staff vote for strike action

Ten council areas have voted for industrial action | Alamy

Education staff vote for strike action

Staff in education and early years have voted to take industrial action across ten local authorities over an “escalating” pay dispute, Unite has confirmed. 

Thousands of council workers, including janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff, are now set to strike after the summer break.  

Council areas that are set to be impacted by the industrial action are: Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde and Orkney. 

84 per cent of education staff rejected the current 5.5 per cent pay offer in a consultative ballot held by Unite in May. The current rate of broader inflation (RPI) stands at 10.7 per cent.  

Unite has called on First Minister Humza Yousaf to intervene in the pay dispute after they described a “collapse” in the negotiations with COSLA. 

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite said: “The message for both the Scottish Government and COSLA is loud and clear. 

“Thousands of our members have voted to take strike action in education and early years services because they won’t accept a real-terms pay cut. 

“Our members deserve far more than the five per cent being served up by the politicians. We will support our members all the way in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.” 

Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite’s members will no longer be taken for granted or undervalued across Scottish councils. Our education and early years members are key workers who help to ensure that children have the safest and best possible learning environment. 

“A five per cent pay offer when the broader cost of living remains in double digits is a harsh real terms pay cut no matter how much spin COSLA and the Scottish Government try to put on it. 

“The politicians have the power to prevent any industrial action hitting schools and early years services. The real question for them is - do they want to play politics with each other at the expense of council workers, or pay our members what they deserve?” 

A COSLA spokesperson said: “The reality of the situation is that as employers, council leaders have made a strong offer to the workforce.  A strong offer which clearly illustrates the value Councils place on their workforce, and it compares well to other sectors. It recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and critically, it seeks to protect jobs and services. 

“While the offer value in year is 5.5 per cent, the average uplift on salaries going into the next financial year is 7 per cent. 

“Those on the Scottish Local Government Living Wage would get 9.12 per cent and those at higher grades, where Councils are experiencing severe recruitment challenges, would see 6.05 per cent. 

“It is an offer which recognises both the vital role of the people who deliver our essential services across Councils every day and the value that we, as employers, place on them.   

“Crucially, it also raises the Scottish Local Government Living Wage by 99p to £11.84 per hour and sets out a commitment to work with our Trade Unions to develop a road map to £15 per hour in a way that protects our workforce and services we deliver.” 

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