The Joint Trade Unions have between them mandates to take action in half of Scotland’s local authority areas. On Monday 25th Oct they notified COSLA that they have served notices to employers that they will be calling out members employer in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial, waste, recycling and fleet maintenance services on the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th November.
Branch secretary, Inez Kirk said, “Our members have worked throughout the pandemic in the workplace, they have kept schools and streets safe and clean so that the children of keyworkers could be cared for and educated, that the vulnerable children had a safe place to go and that rubbish did not pile up on the streets of Aberdeenshire.
“These workers were not thanked for their work, they had no one clapping on their doorsteps for the work they were doing. These were unseen workers working day in day out, putting themselves at risk to ensure that everyone else was as safe as possible.
“We rightfully thanked our care workers, we celebrated them and gave a reward. But there has been nothing for our other keyworkers, no ‘covid bonus’ nothing.
“The pay offer currently on the table does nothing for these workers, it does not redress any sort of balance for the years of poor wages and certainly does not thank them for all their work and the risks they took delivering services for us the public.
“The cost of living is spiralling and the current offer will see standards of living falling rather than rising.
“Members are just fed up, they feel forgotten and undervalued and this is a stand they feel they must take to fight for a better salary for all local authority workers.
“It is time COSLA actually had ‘meaningful’ negotiations rather than just saying they are and for Scottish Government to fund the local authorities appropriately so that workers can be valued and services can be funded.
“Workers can only take so much before they need to say enough is enough.”
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If the employer does not change their position, this could be the start of an escalating period of action.
The Joint Trade Unions have also written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Local Government and Education calling on them to intervene saying that it is not credible for the Scottish Government to wash their hands of local government workers by arguing technicalities of the bargaining machinery.
It is now more than 10 months since the Joint Trade Unions submitted their pay claim, on behalf of the 200k local government workers covered by the Scottish Joint Council negotiating machinery, and 19 months into a global pandemic which has seen them working flat out on the frontline with no reward.
Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “It is the combined failure of both COSLA and the Scottish government to reward these key workers that has led to the situation where we have now been forced to issue notice of targeted strike action.
“Our members are at breaking point and are worth more than what is on offer – it is deeply regrettable that they should have to withdraw their labour for the employer to recognise their worth. Over 55% of LG workers earn below £25k per year, and the vast majority have received no reward at all for their efforts during the Covid pandemic. The current offer does not even bring the lowest paid LG workers up to £10 per hour.”