‘Council workers are the backbone of our communities’ says UNISON general secretary as she launches Scotland’s local government strike ballot

UNISON’s general secretary Christina McAnea is hosting a virtual pay rally today (Wednesday) to mark the launch of the union’s formal strike ballot of select local government workers.

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, is seeking to take targeted strike action, which means select groups of workers will be balloted. These include members working in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial as well as those working in waste and recycling services.

Christina McAnea said: “Council workers have gone above and beyond to keep services and schools running throughout the pandemic. They went to work, so others could stay at home.

“These workers, mostly women, are among the lowest paid in the country and have seen their pay drop substantially in recent years.

“We’ve always known the value and importance of these workers, but it’s taken a pandemic for politicians to realise council staff are the backbone of our communities. Now the warm words must be backed with action to ensure the local government employees receive the fair and proper pay rise they deserve.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “We’ve all relied on council staff to keep our communities clean and safe, protect the most vulnerable and to work in our schools throughout successive lockdowns to allow others to work. Yet, we’re now 18 months into the global pandemic and they have received no reward or recognition of their efforts at all.

 “Scotland’s councils have suffered a decade of cuts and jobs losses, and staff have received year-on-year pay cuts, with 55% of local government workers now earning less than £25k a year.  The current offer from COSLA is simply not good enough – our council staff are worth more.”


 Notes to editors 

UNISON’s pay rally will be live-streamed on UNISON Scotland’s Facebook page from 6pm today (Wednesday).

The ballot will run from today (Wednesday) until September 22.

COSLA, the umbrella body representing council employers, had previously offered staff earning less than £25,000 a flat rate rise of £800. Last month (August) COSLA came back with a revised offer of £850, the rest of the offer remains unchanged. For more information visit our website https://unison-scotland.org/local-government-pay-ballot/


  • Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, on 07817 120 894
  • Trisha Hamilton, UNISON Communications officer, on 07943 507 307, t.hamilton@unison.co.uk
  • Danny Phillips, UNISON Communications officer, on 07944 664 110, d.phillips@unison.co.uk