Cleansing workers set strike dates as pay row heats up

Waste looks set to pile up in the streets of East Renfrewshire as unions announce bin men and cleansing workers are set to strike.,

NHS workers also look set to follow as a summer of discontent hits public services.

Public sector workers’ union Unison announced yesterday that waste workers will down tools on a string of dates during August and September, as a pay row intensifies.

Workers, who battled on to continue waste services throughout the pandemic, have been angered by the pay deal tabled by Scottish councils’ umbrella body the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

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GMB bosses say their members will also down tools on the same dates.

CoSLA – which negotiates local government pay on behalf of councils – has offered a two per cent increase, which unions say is “derisory” and represents a real-terms pay cut for workers as the cost of living rockets and inflation soars.

Unite have also announced that their workers in Scotland’s NHS have rejected a five per cent pay deal on offer.

Rubbish could pile up as waste workers take strike action
(Image: Copyright Unknown)

Some 89 per cent of the union’s members working in the NHS backed strike action in a consultative ballot over whether to reject the Scottish Government’s offer.

Unison has announced it will also canvas 50,000 NHS worker members for strike action in a ballot set to open in October.

Meanwhile, Unison has served notice on eight councils, including East Renfrewshire, that their members will take action.

They have outlined a list of dates, beginning with a four day action from August 26 until 29, to kick off their protest.

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Further strike action will follow from September 7 until 10, as part of a “co-ordinated plan” of industrial action by a trio of unions, which also includes the GMB and Unite.

Dates are also expected for action by staff in schools and nurseries.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government said: “This is the first wave of strike action which will only escalate if a significantly improved pay offer is not forthcoming. Strike dates for schools and early years workers will be confirmed in the coming days.

“The responsibility for this action lies squarely with the Scottish Government and COSLA, neither of whom seem to have grasped the gravity of this situation. Inflation is projected to be as high as 13 per cent, the cost of living crises is hitting people’s pockets now and yet local government workers still only have a 2 per cent offer on the table, the lowest offer in the public sector. They have had months to sort this out but all we seem to get is dither and delay.”

She added: “Our understanding is that the money provided by the Scottish Government is half of what COSLA asked for and goes nowhere near matching the pay offer provided to council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If this is true then the Scottish Government and COSLA need to get back round the table and come up with a better plan or services will stop. The last thing UNISON members want is a strike but they have simply been left with no other option.”

GMB-backed workers will also strike on the same dates.

Unison workers in Renfrewshire will not follow East Renfrewshire workers out after the union failed to gather enough support amongst its members in the neighbouring authority.

The move comes as COSLA Leaders meet to discuss the pay for local government workers again following additional funding provided by the Scottish Government last week.

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council said only: “We have been notified by our Unison trade union partners of their intention to strike and we are drawing up plans to deal with the impact this will cause.”

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Daily Record – Paisley