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15 councils to be hit by ‘second wave’ of cleansing workers’ strikes, says union

Further strike action was prompted by a ‘pitiful’ 2% pay offer from local authority body Cosla, Unite said (Peter Byrne/PA)
Further strike action was prompted by a ‘pitiful’ 2% pay offer from local authority body Cosla, Unite said (Peter Byrne/PA)

A “second wave” of strikes by cleansing workers will see staff at 15 councils walk out, Unite Scotland has said.

Some 250 staff at Edinburgh City Council have already said they plan to walk out over a pay dispute on August 18 and 30 – at the height of the busiest time of the year for the city due to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

But the union has said that about 1,500 members will join colleagues in Edinburgh in strike action on August 24 and 31.

The latest announcement was prompted by a “pitiful” 2% pay offer from local authority body Cosla, the union said, and would add to an already fraught labour landscape, with rail strikes taking place this summer and the threat of teachers also walking out.

Among the councils which will see strike action are Glasgow, Aberdeen, Highland and Dundee.

Unite regional officer Wendy Dunsmore said local authority staff had “had enough of substandard settlements and deserve a decent wage” to counter the effects of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The failure of both Cosla and the Scottish Government to work to bring an improved offer to the table that could have halted this action means any blame for where we are now should be directed back to them,” she added.

“Unite will not tolerate that local government workers are the consistent poor relations and members have now had enough.

“We are calling once again on Cosla to make a fair and decent offer to workers now in order to avoid the forthcoming wave of strikes.”

The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said staff were upset by the “procrastination between Cosla and the Scottish Government” and pledged the organisation’s support for striking staff.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Following constructive discussions with Cosla leaders, and notwithstanding the financial impact on our fully committed budget, the Scottish Government is contributing a further £140 million of recurring funding to support Cosla to make a revised pay offer to the local government workforce.

“Without the ability to borrow or change tax policy, this will have a significant and ongoing impact upon our fixed budget that ministers are taking steps to address.

“Finding a solution must be a collaborative endeavour and local authorities now need to do the same.

“This additional funding demonstrates our commitment to local government and their staff and will allow local authorities to make a significantly enhanced pay offer.”

A spokesman for Cosla said: “We held constructive discussions with Scottish Government last week.

“Leaders met virtually on Friday and at this meeting agreed that they needed further information.

“Given the importance of a pay award for our workforce, council leaders wanted to seek further clarification from both the Scottish Government and the UK Government and will reconvene this week to further consider this matter.”