School strikes will go ahead after revised offer too little too late

School strikes across Scotland are going ahead on 26th, 27th, and 28th September 2023.

UNISON Scotland’s local government committee met this afternoon to discuss the detail of a revised offer from COSLA which was sent to the union at 3pm this afternoon.

The union’s local government committee agreed that strikes will continue, and they will consult local government members on COSLA’s offer and recommend they reject it. The union say that COSLA’s offer is too little, too late and remains a long way from what is needed.

They say the vast majority of local government staff are being offered 5.5% which is only 0.5% more than COSLA’s original offer, which was made almost 6 months ago and rejected by UNISON members.

The union also say that the commitment to pay the lowest paid workers £15 per hour is far too vague and that because no new money has been found to fund the small improvements to the offer it will inevitably lead to more cuts to jobs and services.

UNISON Scotland’s local government committee, which is made up of representatives from local government branches across Scotland, voted unanimously to continue with strikes and to recommend rejection to UNISON members in a consultative ballot.

The union report the committee are angry that for the second year running it had taken COSLA almost 6 months to put forward a revised offer, only doing so on the eve of school closures.

UNISON have written to COSLA to say:
• For members who earn above the Scottish Local Government Living Wage this offer differs from your original offer by only 0.5% in-year.
• The offer remains below the rate of inflation meaning that local government workers are again being asked to take a real-terms pay cut which they can ill-afford during a cost of living crises.
• The commitment to deliver a minimum underpinning rate of pay of £15per hour for the local government workforce remains vague and not within a timescale that we can agree.
• COSLA’s own press release announcing this revised offer that “no new money has been identified for this offer”. When we spoke to you yesterday you made clear that in the absence of additional financial support from the Scottish Government any improvement to the offer would result in further cuts to our members jobs and the services they provide.

UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “This revised offer is far too little, too late. Strikes will therefore proceed next week. We cannot agree to a pay offer that will result in further cuts to our members jobs and the services they provide.

It has taken COSLA 6 months to send us a revised pay offer which, for the vast majority of staff is an increase of only 0.5% in-year. These are not well-paid staff, they are on less than the Scottish average wage and it is simply not acceptable.

Far from learning the lessons of last year’s dispute the situation has been worse this year, caused further delay local government workers’ pay during a cost-of-living crises and created uncertainty for parents. This is no way to conduct industrial relations.”

Chair of UNISON Scotland’s of local government committee, Mark Ferguson said: “The offer is still below the rate of inflation meaning that local government workers are, once again, being asked to take a real-terms pay cut which they can ill-afford during a cost of living crises.

Our members have been left waiting for an improved pay offer for months after their pay uplift was due, and right up until the eve of mass school closures, whilst COSLA and the Scottish Government have prevaricated over who will find the additional money needed to fund any improved offer and where they money will come from.”

Notes to editors
• UNISON is the largest union in local government representing 84,000 workers.
COSLAs pay offer
UNISON’s letter to COSLA
• In August, UNISON members working in schools voted overwhelmingly to take strike action with mandates in 24 local authority areas across Scotland. It is the largest ever vote for strike action by school staff in Scotland.
• Local authority areas affected are: 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; and 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 contact details
• Johanna Baxter M: 07817 120894
• Danny Phillips M: 07944 664110