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Scottish council strikes loom as local government union rejects 3% pay offer

Scottish local government members have voted to reject a 3% pay rise from COSLA as Unison moves towards the possibility of a council pay strike.

Unison said its members voted overwhelmingly against the offer, with two-thirds of local government members saying they were prepared to strike over unfair pay.

The local government umbrella body Cosla wrote to unions back in September with proposals for a 3% increase in pay for council employees earning up to £80,000.

Unions previously rejected an offer for a 2% increase for workers earning more than £36,500, and following Unison’s vote all three major unions have now rejected the latest and ‘final’ offer.

Unison, which represents around 80,000 council members, argued that the pay offer is unfair for lower-paid local government staff and will now hold talks with trade unions and the employers.

Johanna Baxter, its head of local government bargaining, said: “What this result demonstrates is a real anger and frustration amongst Unison members at the lack of action by Cosla and the Scottish government to address the serious issue of low pay in local government.

“As the Scottish government prepare their budget we will put further pressure on them to make more money available to fund a decent pay rise for local government staff.

“Local government workers have endured a decade of real-terms pay cuts, and they have now simply had enough.”

Cosla offered a 3% rise for staff earning up to £80,000 a year and £1,600 for those above that, as well as promising that the minimum rate of pay would be £8.77 an hour, which would be backdated to 1 April.

Mark Ferguson, chair of Unison’s Scotland local government committee, said: “They do not think it is fair that the Scottish Government found £38m extra to put into teachers’ pay, over and above their cost of living increase, but they have offered no additional money for low paid local government workers.”

Last week Cosla called for a 2.5% increase in local government funding in the Scottish Budget, which is due to be set out in December, warning that councils have “no options left.”

Scottish ministers pledged to lift a 1% public sector pay cap in 2017 after months of pressure from unions, but in February this year Cosla demanded more resources to pay for future public sector pay increases.

Image credit - georgeclerk

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