Stirling Observer

Council workers to vote on strike action

- KAIYA MARJORIBAN­KS

Binmen, school cleaners, catering staff and janitors are among Stirling Council workers set to be balloted for strike action.

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, has started to issue formal industrial action ballot papers to council workers across the country in a dispute over pay.

COSLA, the umbrella body representi­ng council employers, had previously offered staff earning less than £25,000 a flat rate rise of £800. Last week COSLA came back with a revised offer of £850 – working out at approximat­ely 97p per week for the lowest paid staff.

The union says council staff who have kept services and schools running throughout the pandemic deserve a proper pay rise and that the latest pay offer falls far short of their pay claim and does little to address low pay.

The trade union says that councils have suffered a decade of cuts and jobs losses, and that staff have received year-on-year pay cuts with delivering services having become increasing­ly stressful for councils’ workforces.

Pressure is mounting on both COSLA leaders and the Scottish Government to find an urgent resolution to the issue and COSLA leaders met again last Friday.

UNISON intends to take targeted strike action, which means select groups of workers will be balloted. These include members working in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial as well as those working in waste and recycling services.

Lorraine Thomson, UNISON Stirling branch secretary said: “The last 18 months have taken an enormous toll on council staff who have been working flat out for no reward. Their courage and sacrifices need to be rewarded, yet the employers are failing to recognise their efforts.

“These workers, mostly women, are amongst the lowest paid in the country and have seen their pay drop substantia­lly in recent years. The pay offer falls far short of their colleagues in the NHS and local government workers are left feeling exhausted and undervalue­d. Scotland’s council workers deserve fair pay.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “We’ve all relied on council staff to keep our communitie­s clean and safe, protect the most vulnerable and to work in our schools throughout successive lockdowns to allow others to work.

“Without these workers going above and beyond to keep services running over the past year their colleagues in the NHS would have been left without childcare, our mortuaries would have been overwhelme­d, our children would have been left without an education and our elderly would have been left without care. Yet to date they have received no reward or recognitio­n of their efforts at all. It’s simply not good enough – our council staff are worth more.”

A Cosla spokespers­on said: “We appreciate everything that local government workers have been doing, and continue to do, to support people and communitie­s during the pandemic and as we begin to recover.

“We continue with ongoing constructi­ve negotiatio­ns.”

 ??  ?? Ballot School cleaners, catering staff and janitors are among those voting
Ballot School cleaners, catering staff and janitors are among those voting

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