Almost 2000 schools will close because of strikes, say UNISON

UNISON has today (Monday) written to COSLA to say it is preparing to close almost 2000 schools (1868 schools) across Scotland when over 21,000 members go on strike later this month.

The union, Scotland’s largest union in local government, will give the employer at least 14 days’ notice of strike dates, which will be announced in the coming days. The letter has been sent on the eve of a COSLA leaders’ meeting being held tomorrow (Tuesday) where they are expected to discuss the pay dispute.

The letter says: “This strike mandate is the strongest show of strength by our members in decades – their resolve to fight for the decent pay rise they, and all their colleagues across local government, so richly deserve is clear for all to see. Members were due their pay uplift in April of this year – it is therefore already 5 months overdue, despite our claim being submitted on 26th January 2023. This is unacceptable.”

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “UNISON’s school staff have spoken loudly and clearly – unless COSLA leaders put forward a significantly improved offer soon further industrial action will take place. UNISON’s mandate, voted for by school staff, covers over 21,000 workers in almost 2000 schools across Scotland.

“We are in discussion with colleagues about strike dates and these will be announced in the coming days.  No one wants to see schools close – our members want to be in schools supporting children, not outside them on picket lines – but the lack of movement from COSLA and the Scottish Government are leaving them with little option.”

UNISON Scotland local government committee chair, Mark Ferguson said: “This is not a highly paid workforce. Three quarters of local government workers earn less than the average Scottish wage,  £33,000 per year, and the majority of them are women. The current pay offer falls short of the current rate of inflation and would amount to a real-terms pay cut, adding further stress to a dedicated workforce who are already suffering from the current cost of living crises.”

Notes for Editors 

  • UNISON is the largest union in local government.
  • Read letter sent to COSLA today here
  • UNISON has secured mandates to take strike action in 24 local authority areas, of every size and geographical scale, across Scotland – Aberdeenshire Council, Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council, The City of Edinburgh Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Fife Council, South Lanarkshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Glasgow City Council, Clackmannanshire Council, Moray Council, South Ayrshire Council, Stirling Council, West Dunbartonshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, East Dunbartonshire Council, Dundee City Council, Inverclyde Council, Angus Council, East Renfrewshire Council, Perth & Kinross Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Renfrewshire Council.
  • UNISON’s strike mandate covers over 21,000 members covering the full range of school support staff duties including school cleaners, caterers, janitors and school support assistants.
  • UNISON’s mandate covers members working in over 1,868 schools across Scotland.