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UNISON to ballot council members calling for rejection of derisory pay offer

UNISON along with GMB and Unite will ballot all council members on the CoSLA pay offer and will recommend rejection, slamming the offer as far below what council workers are entitled to after keeping services and communities going throughout the pandemic.

UNISON’s consultative ballot will begin on 12th April. Watch out for your email and make sure you have your say. If we don’t have your email address please go on to My UNISON on the UNISON national website and input it.

You can read the unions pay claim and the COSLA pay offer here:

This offer:
• Falls far short of the flat rate or % increase outlined in our claim.
• Does little to address issues of low pay which have become endemic following a decade of austerity.
• Contains no provision for restoring pay levels to pre-austerity levels.
• Contains no provisions to pay the registration fees of workers who are required to maintain a regulatory registration to undertake their role or any other costs associated with undertaking their role.
• Contains no commitment to explore a no-detriment reduction in the working week or any other measure to address the increased demands placed on our members or their ability to maintain a work-life balance.
• Contains so assessment of the pay gap against any of the protected characteristics (something that could easily have been prepared and submitted to the trade unions in the months since the submission of our claim and in advance of our meeting today to help inform our discussions).

The Joint Trade Unions had  given COSLA a deadline of the 1st April, the normal implementation date of any pay increase, to present an improved offer, noting that the current offer was not made until 15th March, some three months after submission of the pay claim, leaving little time to engage in meaningful negotiations prior to the implementation date.

Johanna Baxter, Head of UNISON Scotland Local Government

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “Local government workers have gone above and beyond in their response to the Covid pandemic – keeping local services going in the most difficult of circumstances.

“CoSLA have frequently praised their efforts and previously committed to ensuring that issues of reward and recognition would be addressed through these pay negotiations. This claim does nothing to support this.

“According to CoSLA’s own figures 55% of the Scottish Local Government workforce earns less than £25k per annum – that’s over 100,000 workers earning significantly below the average wage of £32,000 per annum. The current offer does not address the issue of endemic low pay for these workers.

“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.”

Inez Kirk
Inez Kirk

Inez Kirk, branch secretary and national negotiator said: “This is a derisory pay offer, more like a slap in the face than a clap for local government workers.

“It does nothing to thank social care workers who have helped keep our loved ones safe and supported at home, and helped prevent hospitalisation while our NHS was stretched beyond capacity, are not being recognised.

“Homeless workers, school workers keeping hubs open, refuse workers keeping our streets and homes clean, all have been totally snubbed.

“The shocking reality is that more than half of all local government workers earn less than £25,000 a year with the majority those being predominantly women. All these workers have stepped up and gone beyond the call of duty, many of them literally putting their lives on the line. They deserve recognition and reward, not this shabby pay offer.”

Steve Gray
Steve Gray

Steve Gray, branch co-chair added: “Local Government workers have gone above and beyond the call of duty for over 12 months now and all that has been offered to the low paid workforce in councils amounts to less than £10 per week.

“Members are exhausted and feel undervalued so we will be asking our members across Scotland to reject this derisory offer over the next few weeks.

“We are sending a message that comes from all Scottish trade union members that Councillors and MSP’s must do more to value all local government workers and this starts with a fair pay offer for all our Covid heroes”.