UNISON Scotland warns against waste and recycling strikes

UNISON Scotland, the country’s largest union and representative of workers providing public and related services, has warned strikes by council staff will see “trash piling up” on the streets.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes have been called to meet the union and provide ‘immediate action’ on the local government pay dispute.

Last week, UNISON Scotland notified 31 Scottish local authorities and Tayside Contracts. As the union carries out a targeted strike, groups of workers will be elected, including those working in schools, nurseries and waste and recycling services.

Voting will open June 10 and close July 26. If the ballots for industrial action are successful, the strike could begin in August.

In a letter to the two Scottish Government ministers, UNISON Scotland and mixed unions warned an unresolved pay dispute would ‘close schools across the country and see litter piling up in the streets’.

In April, an advisory poll organized by UNISON Scotland found that ‘nearly nine in 10 workers favor action’, with 89.8 per cent voting in favor of industrial action ‘up to and including the strike “.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) offered staff a 2% raise, but the union stressed that the current state of inflation – ‘at a 40-year high and over 11%’ – would make it a “true-reduction of remuneration conditions”.

According to the union, councils can avoid disrupting waste and recycling services and schools by improving supply and giving workers “the appropriate pay rise they deserve”.

In November 2021, waste collectors and street cleaners across Scotland went on strike, backed by the GMB union, following an unresolved dispute between the trade body and Glasgow City Council . Initially, the strike appeared to be averted thanks to an offer from COSLA, but this was later rejected by GMB.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON’s local government leader, said: “People seem to have forgotten who has kept our country running for the past few years – these workers are the ones who kept childcare centers open so that d other key workers to get to work, they cared for our most vulnerable and buried our dead. They have gone above and beyond in service to our communities and deserve to be paid fairly.

“With more than half of local government workers earning less than £25,000 each year, low pay remains a significant issue which sees councils struggling to recruit in key service areas. As the cost of daily living continues to rise, these workers struggle to make ends meet.

“Not only do these dedicated local government workers deserve far better than a below inflation pay offer, but there is a service requirement to provide one if councils are to recruit and retain staff in key service areas. .”

Mark Ferguson, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Local Government Committee, added: “It’s no wonder our local government workers feel undervalued. After years of declining wages and cuts to local government budgets, it’s time for COSLA and the Scottish Government to come together to ensure that sufficient funding is available to give our employees from local government the fair and decent salary increase they deserve.