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UNISON condemns Scottish Government’s slap in the face to local government workers

UNISON Scotland has slammed the Scottish Government’s refusal to provide additional funding to COSLA to improve the local government pay offer

The three trade unions representing local government workers across Scotland have written to the Scottish Government condemning this decision.

In a hard-hitting message to the Cabinet Secretaries for Finance, Local Government and Education they also call out reports that in their discussions with COSLA the Cabinet Secretaries allegedly sought to argue that local government workers were ‘not on a par with health workers and so could not expect a similar offer’.

The move comes as all three trade unions prepare for formal industrial action ballots of their members on local government pay after their members overwhelmingly rejected the offer made by COSLA in March. Negotiations have stalled since then with COSLA arguing that they do not have sufficient funds to improve the offer unless the Scottish Government give them additional money and the Scottish Government arguing that they have no locus in the discussions.

The trade unions state that local government workers have gone above and beyond in their response to the Covid pandemic – a fact which has been underlined in the recent Accounts Commission report ‘Local Government in Scotland – Overview 2021’ and recent surveys of their members experiences over the past year – and deserve reward and recognition for their efforts.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “If these comments are true they are a disgrace and nothing short of a slap in the face to every single local government worker across Scotland. For Government Ministers to stand on their doorsteps and clap home care workers for their pandemic response but then in private say they are ‘not on a par’ with their colleagues in health is the height of hypocrisy and disrespect.

If it hadn’t been for these workers our NHS would have been overwhelmed, our children left without an education and our most vulnerable left alone and without care in their own homes – these workers have put their own lives on the line and have done so on some of the lowest wages in the public sector.

The Scottish Government are able to find money when it suits them – pitting worker against worker with their ‘Covid reward payments’ – but the constant is that local government workers are always forgotten. There should be no ‘hierarchy of the deserving’ amongst public sector workers in Scotland and local government workers deserve better than being used as a political football between the Scottish Government and COSLA”.