Socialist Worker

Round two of Scots’ Local Government pay battle

Issue No. 2119

The next battle against the government’s determination to hold down wages takes place on Wednesday of next week in Scotland with over 150,000 local government workers coming out for the second time.

Council services, including schools, cleansing, housing, home care and libraries will be shut.

The workers in the Unison, GMB and Unite unions are holding a Scotland-wide march and rally in Edinburgh.

Workers rejected a pay offer of 2.5 percent a year for the next three years and are demanding 5 percent or £1,000 backdated to April this year.

The successful strike on 20 August forced council bosses, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), back to the table.

Their invitation to the unions was very apologetic over how their “good faith” 2.5 percent offer clearly now fell well short of inflation.

But when it came to the talks, while they dropped the three-year term of the offer, the employers went back on the recognition of how poor the offer was and insisted that they were not prepared to improve it.

They now claim that any further increase would lead to future cuts in services and jobs.

Brian Smith, Shetland Unison branch chair, said the employers had been “very stupid” in first making noises that an improved offer would be forthcoming and then not delivering.

“The mood among union members is very stalwart and we are united to see this campaign through,” he said.

According to Jimmy Farrelly, from Unite, “Workers are furious with the actions of Scottish employers and council leaders who seem determined to take an unnecessarily

hardline on pay with some of the poorest and lowest paid workers.”

The all-out day on 24 September will be followed by three separate week-long strikes by selected groups, starting in the week beginning 6 October.

The effectiviness of the picket lines and the march will determine the momentum going into the selective action.

All Scotland march and rally,
 Wednesday 24 September. Assemble 12.30pm outside City Chambers High Street.
March 1pm. Rally at Ross Bandstand, West Princes Street Gardens, 1.45pm

In the England, Wales and Northern Ireland local government dispute, the Unison union negotiators are set to report on the result of the talks on Thursday of this week.

It is imperative that every Unison and Unite union branch makes it clear to its negotiators that workers’ conditions, including sick pay and enhancements, are not to be given up in any deal.

Activists need to keep up the pressure for renewed action and if there are no improvements in the pay offer, the next days of national action should be announced as soon as possible.

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