Further strike action planned as UNISON membership soars

UNISON has written to council employers’ organisation Cosla and the Scottish Government warning that further industrial action is being planned, the union says today (Friday).

The move comes after three days of strikes by staff represented by UNISON in more than 1,800 schools across Scotland.

UNISON has reported a surge in membership numbers as thousands of local government workers joined the country’s largest union in the past week.

The letter calls on Cosla to come clean over the details of its revised pay offer. Cosla has implied the deal is mostly a flat-rate payment, but the reality is a complex percentage deal related to hours worked, says the union.

It is standard practice for the employer to publish amended pay scales alongside any pay offer, but this hasn’t happened for this latest revised offer, UNISON says. Council staff need this vital information to help them decide whether to accept or reject the offer.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “The strength of feeling amongst UNISON school staff has been clear for all to see on picket lines across Scotland. There’s also been a surge in membership, which is testament to the strength of local government workers’ resolve to continue their fight for fair pay.

“The union will consult its council workers on the latest offer. But Cosla must come clean about how the offer will affect revised pay scales and clarify precisely where the money will come from.

“There’s considerable concern that channelling money from the Redress Scheme and Pupil Equity Funds will affect jobs and the services provided to vulnerable children.”

UNISON Scotland chair of the local government committee Mark Ferguson said: “For Cosla to tell council staff to ‘sign up now and we’ll tell you how much you’ll get later’ just adds insult to the injury of the ongoing wait for a pay deal that should have been in wage packets in April.

“Most council staff want to know ‘what does this offer mean for me?’, but if the pay scales aren’t published, it’s impossible to know.

“Cosla must explain. And if it has any confidence its offer is fair, it would be putting pay scales on billboards rather than keeping them secret.”

Editors notes:

– More than 21,000 UNISON members in 1868 schools across 24 Scottish local authorities have taken strike action in pursuit of an improved pay offer during three days of strike action this week.

– UNISON’s latest letter to Cosla can be read here.

– Despite previous requests UNISON has yet to receive a copy of the revised pay scales which would apply to the latest offer. Previous offers have come with the revised pay scales attached, but not on this occasion.

– UNISON is the public services union and Scotland’s largest union in local government representing over 80,000 workers in education al roles in local government.