Local government workers in largest union vote to reject pay offer and take action

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, has overwhelmingly rejected COSLA’s pay offer and voted to take action to secure an improvement.

The consultative ballot which closed today, saw 87% vote to reject the pay deal and 90%, of those members, voting in favour of taking some form of action up to and including strike action.

COSLA leaders meet on Friday and UNISON is urging them to come back with an improved offer.  In the meantime UNISON Scotland’s local government committee is preparing next steps for a formal industrial action ballot.

UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “Local government workers have overwhelmingly voted to reject COSLA’s  pay offer and made it clear that they are willing to take strike action to get a better offer.  It is disappointing that yet again UNISON members are having to consider withdrawing their labour in order to secure a decent pay rise – it’s the last thing they want to do but they continue to face a cost of living crisis and they have understandably had enough of being treated like the poor relations of the public sector.

COSLA and the Scottish government need to get around the table and fund local government properly so these workers get a pay rise that recognises and rewards the vital work they do.  The alternative is that we remain in this cycle of dispute year after year with the result that local government workers become increasingly exasperated and disillusioned at the way they are being treated.”

Chair of UNISION Scotland local government committee, Mark Ferguson said: “local government workers in Scotland have suffered over a decade of pay cuts and, with the rest of the country, are living with the cost of living crisis. Local government staff are the backbone of our communities – our refuse workers, cleaners, school staff, carers and more. They deserve to paid fairly and not have to be worrying about how they will pay their household bills.”

Notes to editors:

UNISON Scotland is the largest union in local government.

UNISON digital consultative ballot to all UNISON local government members:

  • Do you want to accept or reject this pay offer? Reject pay offer 87.11%
  • Are you willing to take industrial action up to and including strike action in pursuit of an improved offer? Of those who reject pay offer, 90.99% voted in favour of taking some form of industrial action, up to and including strike action, to secure an improved offer.

Read full pay offer here: https://unison-scotland.org/wp-content/uploads/23-04-03-SJC-Pay-Offer.pdf

UNISON letter to COSLA with reasons for recommending rejecting the offer: https://unison-scotland.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-to-COSLA-re-Pay-030423.pdf

Summary of pay offer, effective from 1 April 2023

– A 5% uplift on all Spinal Column Points (SCP)

Effective from 1 January 2024

  • An additional £0.45 on SCP2 to SCP18 and the underpinning Scottish Local Government Living Wage rate. This will raise the SLGLW by £0.99 over the course of the financial year.
  • An additional 2.5% on SCP19 to SCP43, with smoothing consisting of slightly
  • higher uplifts applied to SCP19, 20, and 21.
  • An additional 1.5% up on SCP44 to SCP64.
  • An additional 1% on SCP 65 and above