Scotland council strikes: is schools and bins strike still happening - what has Unison said about Cosla offer?

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Council workers in Scotland had been preparing to strike which would have resulted in schools being closed

Three trade unions have suspended a council worker’s strike in Scotland, after workers recevied a new pay offer from council body Cosla.

Unite, GMB and Unison have suspended the strikes, which affected waste services and was due to impact education, after Cosla made an improved pay offer following a last-minute intervention meeting by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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Unison said that it plans “to suspend schools and waste strikes and ballot members on improved council pay offer”, with GMB and Unite following suit.

Bin workers have been on strike across the country, with some school workers in certain council areas set to join them next week.

School and bin strikes held by Unison members have been suspended by the union, after it announced to was giving members the chance to vote on a noew pay offer from Cosla. School and bin strikes held by Unison members have been suspended by the union, after it announced to was giving members the chance to vote on a noew pay offer from Cosla.
School and bin strikes held by Unison members have been suspended by the union, after it announced to was giving members the chance to vote on a noew pay offer from Cosla. | Getty Images

What pay offer has been tabled by Cosla?

The offer tabled to council workers by Cosla came following a meeting between trade union representitives, Cosla bosses and Ms Sturgeon on Thursday 1 September.

Workers have been offered:

  • a £2,000 increase for those earning less than £20,500
  • a £1,925 increase for those earning between £20,500 and £60,000
  • a £3,000 maximum increase for workers earning over £60,000

It comes after the prior pay offer was criticsed for offering a more substantial increase to high-earners.

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Unison said that the offer was tabled after Ms Sturgeon increased the pay envelope to £600 million for the first time since negotiations began.

What have the trade unions said about the pay offer?

Unison have called the offer a “victory” for its members, many of whom have been striking or were due to strike in the coming week.

Johanna Baxter, head of lcal government for Unison, said: “This offer is a victory for Unison members.

“It has taken eight months and the industrial might of Unison members in schools and early years and waste and recycling workers to drag £600 million out of Scottish Government and Cosla and into the pockets hardworking people.

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“Cosla originally offered 2%, then 3.5%, then 5% – now we have £600 million on the table, which is a 7.5% increase to the total pay bill and 87% of our council workers will receive fully consolidated increases between 5% to 10%.

“Unison want to get this money into the pockets of council workers now while we continue the campaign to support people through the cost-of-living crisis.”

GMB and Unite trade unions will also suspend their strikes, and ballot their members on the pay offer.

Unite’ leade negotiator for local govenrment, Wendy Dunsmore, said that the union was recommending that members accept the offer.

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She said: “After the latest round of intensive talks, a new credible offer has finally been put on the table by Cosla. Unite wants to acknowledge the First Minister’s direct involvement as a primary reason for the breakthrough.

“The offer on the table is fully consolidated and as such there will be more cash in the pot going forward for local government workers. It provides a degree of security for the lowest paid, with a flat rate offer of £2,000, which is an uplift worth around 10 to 11%

“We now have a credible offer which our local government representatives can recommend to the membership for acceptance.”

GMB have said that while “it’s not the perfect offer”, the union felt it was “worthy of members consultation and their acceptance”.

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Keir Greenaway, senior organiser for public services for the GMB, said: “GMB has been very clear that more must be done for the lowest paid in local government and this latest offer delivers a significant amount of consolidated money for these workers, including the frontline refuse and schools’ staff that everyone depends on.”

He added: “In the meantime, we have agreed to suspend all planned strike action so this consultation process can take place and our GMB organisers and workplace reps will be visiting as many workplaces as possible to engage our members on this.

“Most importantly, we want to pay tribute to our members. Strike action is not easy, it requires sacrifice and solidarity to deliver outcomes that make work better, and they have fought long and hard for an improved offer to help confront this cost-of-living crisis.”

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