‘Now keep your promises’ UNISON tells COSLA & Scottish Gov as council staff accept pay deal

The long running pay dispute which closed schools across Scotland has been brought to an end as UNISON members vote to accept the improved pay offer, made as a result of recent strike action.

Announcing the results of the ballot UNISON warned COSLA and  Scottish Government that they expect the promises to tackle low pay to be delivered. And that rather than threaten staff delivering public services with redundancy the Scottish Government should abandon their “financially reckless” plans for a council tax freeze.

UNISON members across all of Scotland’s councils voted to accept the latest offer by a margin of 69.6% to 30.4%. The accepted offer has various improvements on previous rejected offers including a timetable for all Local Government staff to be paid a minimum of £15 per hour by 2026 and the full deal being backdated to April 2023 rather than some uplifts only happening in Jan 2024.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “This deal is long overdue and was hard fought for by UNISON members.  COSLA urgently need to review the bargaining process to ensure that future pay negotiations progress quickly and with as little disruption as possible.

“The improvements secured by UNISON in these negotiations help address low pay and support those in the squeezed middle.  Delivering a minimum rate of pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers by April 2026 will go a long way to tackling low pay and will make a real different to people’s lives.  Backdating the full offer to 1st April 2023 means those on very modest incomes are protected during the cost of living crisis too.

“It was UNISON members who stood on picket lines to fight for this improved deal.  It was UNISON negotiators who brokered it.  And it will be UNISON that fights to ensure that all of the commitments it contains are delivered in full.

“And government at local and national level should be aware that we aren’t going to be bullied into believing its council staff expecting fair pay that threatens services and jobs by a government proposing a financially feckless council tax freeze ”

Chair of UNISON Scotland’s local government committee, Mark Ferguson said:

“Over the past few months, from the employers original offer to today, the action of UNISON members has secured more than an additional £100m into the pockets of local government workers.

“The commitment to deliver a minimum of £15 per hour for local government workers is ground-breaking and should see significant increases for those on the lowest pay for at least the next three years.  Where previous offers only offered talks about the possibility of this being achieved, the improvements UNISON secured make sure it become a reality.  This has been a long-standing UNISON objective to help those on the very lowest pay and we will work hard with COSLA on the practicalities of delivering it.

“I want to thank UNISON members for taking action that has helped secure this improved deal.  Our membership has been growing at unprecedented rates over the past few months which demonstrates that workers know UNISON will deliver for them.”