Scotland’s public sector looks set to be brought to a standstill when up to 150,000 local government workers strike against below-inflation pay offers on Wednesday of next week.
Some 5,000 members of the PCS civil service workers’ union at the Scottish government and Registers of Scotland will strike on the same day against their 2 percent pay offer.
The Unison, Unite and GMB union members in local government will shut down council services and schools.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), backed by both the Scottish and Westminster governments, has refused to improve a pay offer of 2.5 percent a year for the next three years.
Workers are angry at a three-year pay cut in real terms.
The lowest grade in local government are on £5.81 per hour, based on an average 37 hour working week.
As one worker in Edinburgh told Socialist Worker, “It is effectively a pay cut. It is a miserly increase of just 15 pence per hour.”
A council worker in Glasgow told Socialist Worker, “Why should we continue to accept below inflation pay which hurts the low paid the hardest?
“We are not being listened to by the council bosses or the government so we have to make a stand for a decent wage.”
The strikes are part of the growing resistance to the government’s determination to hold down wages.
Another council worker told Socialist Worker, “Food bills have gone up. Rents, mortgages, transport, it’s all going up – everything apart from our wages. Why are we told to tighten our belts when the gas company is making nearly £1 billion in profits?”
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland talks started on Tuesday between the local government unions and the employers.
However, if no above-inflation pay rise is forthcoming then local government workers, north and south of the border, should be arguing for coordinated strike action in October.
Local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should hold open meetings outside town halls on the day of the Scottish strike to show solidarity and to build momentum for their own fight against the attack on pay.