Trade unions urge Derek Mackay to talks to avert strike action in Local Government

UNISON, Unite and the GMB write a joint letter to Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, the Economy & Fair Work, urging him to attend talks to avert strike action across local government.

The three trade unions representing local government workers have called for a tripartite meeting, involving Derek Mackay, COSLA and trade union representatives, to discuss local government finance and the urgent need to allocate additional funds to COSLA to fund a proper pay rise for local government workers and avert strike action across the local government workforce.   The letter to Mr Mackay states “There is now a very real possibility of widespread industrial action across the Local Government workforce unless you and/or COSLA take measures to improve the current offer.  We would urge you to do so”.

All trade unions have consulted their members on the recent pay offer from COSLA and all have confirmed to COSLA that their members have rejected it.  All trade unions will now proceed to organising statutory industrial action ballots unless the current offer is improved.  There was no progress in talks at a meeting of the trade unions and COSLA last week, on 9 November, but it was agreed that a tripartite meeting may assist in exploring the urgent need for an injection of additional funding for local government from the Scottish Government.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Head of Local Government (Bargaining) said:  “Trade union members across the Local Government workforce have spoken with one voice to say enough is enough.  It is time for COSLA and the Scottish Government to get back round the table and come up with an improved offer which addresses the issues of low pay and provides parity across the local government workforce.  Co-ordinated action is likely if they choose not to do so and it shouldn’t take industrial action for them to realise the value of our members jobs.”

Elaine Dougall, Unite Senior National Officer said “Unite would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Minister  and COSLA Representatives to discuss the shortfall in Local Government funding, the impact that this has on our members who struggle to comprehend why they are not treated and funded equally by the  Scottish Government.”

Drew Duffy, GMB Senior Organiser said “GMB members across local government have had enough of being treated like 2nd class citizens when it comes to public sector pay. Our members are the ones that look after our vulnerable people, feed our kids, empty our bins and ensure council services continue to function despite 10 years of cuts. It’s time the Scottish Government and COSLA meet with the trade unions to put more money into our members pockets. We are hopeful a meeting between all parties will result in an offer our members can accept otherwise we are heading into a period of industrial action across Scotland.”


  • You can read the letter to Derek MacKay here.
  • Local government workers have endured a decade austerity with job cuts, and a decade real terms pay cuts. A decade of austerity has led to staffing shortages in key areas of local government like social care and school staff.
  • The final offer from the employers (CoSLA), after months of campaigning and negotiations, was 3% for one year for workers earning up to £80,000. Despite assurances from CoSLA about parity and fairness across all local government workers, the Scottish government found an extra £38m for teachers – meaning some teachers could get up to 10% pay rises, while the teaching assistants working alongside them would get 3%.
  • The offer to the trade unions is below the current rate of inflation and does not address or improve low pay.


  • Johanna Baxter, UNISON Head of Local Government (Bargaining): 07817 120 894
  • Elaine Dougall, Unite Senior National Officer: 07810157904
  • Drew Duffy, GMB Senior Organiser: 07912560806