Strike threat as coun­cil chiefs get tough on pay

The Scotsman - - News -

an of­fer, which was ac­cepted by teach­ers and lo­cal author­ity man­age­ment, that would have meant a 2.5 per cent rise in 2010-11.

At the start of this month, Uni­son joined the gmB and Unite in re­ject­ing the latest of­fer, in a move that was branded the “pol­i­tics of the mad­house” by the tories. It came after the In­de­pen­dent Bud­get re­view es­ti­mated coun­cils could be forced to shed as many as 50,000 jobs in fu­ture years as they cope with bud­get cuts of up to £3.8 bil­lion.

After the deal was snubbed, lo­cal author­ity um­brella body Cosla warned union in­tran­si­gence could cost as many as 6,500 coun­cil jobs.

Speak­ing as he emerged from a Cosla meet­ing at which the pay of­fer was with­drawn, its hu­man re­sources spokesman Coun­cil­lor michael Cook said: “We made a fi­nal of­fer to the trade

“If the tem­per­a­ture is right, we will take them on”

Alan McLuckie, of the GMB union

unions four months ago. We are into Septem­ber next week and coun­cils need clar­ity to al­low for for­ward fi­nan­cial plan­ning and bud­get man­age­ment.

“We hugely value our hard­work­ing em­ploy­ees and on this ba­sis made them an orig­i­nal of­fer which rep­re­sented the ab­so­lute ex­trem­ity of what coun­cils could af­ford. We have tried ev­ery­thing we could to get the unions to re­alise the grav­ity of the fi­nan­cial pres­sures we face and our de­ter­mi­na­tion as far as pos­si­ble to pro­tect jobs and ser­vices.

“they have left us in an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion by fail­ing to recog­nise the in­ter­ests of their mem­bers. Coun­cils are left with no op­tion but to with­draw that of­fer and im­pose a set­tle­ment. the unions have to re­alise the un­prece­dented fi­nan­cial cir­cum- stances which the pub­lic sec­tor, and lo­cal gov­ern­ment in par­tic­u­lar, finds it­self.”

But Alan mcLuckie, of the gmB, said Cosla had “en­gi­neered the unions into this sit­u­a­tion”.

He said: “What they are do­ing, quite frankly, is dirty. As far as we are con­cerned, if they im­pose this, we won’t recog­nise a three­year deal. If we take the 0.65 per cent this year, we are still free to go back and hit them for a wage rise next year and the fol­low­ing year. If the tem­per­a­ture is right and the mood of our mem­bers is right, we will take them on.”

He con­firmed in­dus­trial ac­tion was one of the op­tions that would be dis­cussed.

Jack­son Cul­li­nane, of Unite, ac­cused Cosla of mov­ing “in a wholly neg­a­tive di­rec­tion” and added: “they have left us with no other op­tion but to con­sider con­sult­ing our mem­bers on po­ten­tial in­dus­trial ac­tion.”

the union’s lead ne­go­tia­tor, Dougie Black, said: “Cosla had bud­geted for 1 per cent this year but have cho­sen to im­pose a lower fig­ure than the tory/ Lib­eral Demo­crat coali­tion are pre­pared to pay pub­lic sec­tor work­ers south of the Bor­der. It is con­temptible that they say they value pub­lic ser­vice work­ers. they can’t pos­si­bly when they are re­duc­ing wages, tak­ing an of­fer off the ta­ble and im­pos­ing some­thing worth less.”

Politi­cians crit­i­cised the break­down in ne­go­ti­a­tions. Derek Brown­lee, the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives’ fi­nance spokesman said the unions “only had them­selves to blame” after re­ject­ing ear­lier deals. He added: “they are be­ing com­pletely un­re­al­is­tic about the hugely dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times we face and it is time they saw sense. the fact is that a pay freeze will mean fewer job losses, whereas con­tin­ual pay rises at this time will cost jobs.”

Labour’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment spokesman michael mcma­hon said Scot­tish gov­ern­ment min­is­ters could help the ne­go­ti­a­tions by clar­i­fy­ing the po­si­tion on the coun­cil tax freeze.

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