UNISON call off strike

Public-sector trade union, UNISON, has called off a day of strike action planned for October 21st while it consults local government members on a last-minute offer from the Scottish Employer (COSLA).

The employers have put forward proposals which concentrate on three areas of the dispute: their future participation in the agreed bargaining machinery; consolidation of the Living Wage and the deletion of spinal column pay-points below the level of the Living Wage. With the Living Wage being hugely significant for low paid workers – and the consolidation affecting at least 24 of the 32 Scottish local authorities – UNISON will consult its members on whether this offer is sufficient to halt industrial action in the future.

On the offer from the employers, Alison MacCorquodale, Western Isles Local Government Branch Secretary said: “The UNISON members I have spoken to feel that this is yet another insulting offer. Whilst consolidation of the Living Wage will benefit our low paid workers, this last-ditch attempt to appease us does not go far enough. We keep hearing that the economy is in recovery, but where is the money going?”

“Councils are choosing to bank money rather than reward the very people who are keeping public services going. All local government workers in Scotland deserve a pay rise – that’s what a real recovery looks like.”

UNISON members had voted to undertake a programme of industrial action, calling for:

• Fair pay – specifically, an extra £1 per hour for all workers in local government. In 2013, the employers imposed a below-inflation award of 1%.

• An end to low pay through consolidation of the Living Wage and the deletion of spinal column pay-points below the level of the Living Wage.

• The employer to return to the negotiating table to talk about the biggest issues facing local government, including future pay awards. By imposing 1% in both 2013 and 2014 - and refusing to negotiate with the trade unions - the employers were going against long-standing, mutually agreed protocols.

UNISON Branch Organiser Flora Somerville said:

“The employers should not underestimate the anger amongst local government workers at the way they have been treated. They have seen a 14% reduction in their pay since 2007, nearly 40,000 jobs have been lost across Scotland and the cost of living continues to soar. Our members are being pushed to the edge by a government that doesn’t care what happens to our public services or the workforce that provides them.”

The ballot will open on Monday 20 October and close on Monday 3 November 2014. The Western Isles Local Government Branch will consider their stance on the revised offer at a meeting on 21 October and will make a recommendation to their members immediately thereafter.