Union members vote to reject £350m local government pay offer

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A union has voted to reject a £350 million local government pay deal and move towards industrial action.

Unite local government staff members voted by 73% in a consultative ballot to reject the revised pay deal from local authority umbrella body Cosla.

Of those who rejected the deal, 88% backed industrial action following the month-long consultative ballot.

A separate consultative ballot for the union’s local government craft members is due to close on Friday October 26.

The union, along with the GMB and Unison, recommended members reject the recently revised pay deal from local authority umbrella body Cosla, arguing workers are being offered less than teachers.

They want pay parity across the local government workforce but Cosla said the offer of a 3% increase for those earning up to £80,000 puts staff on a par with those working in the NHS and other parts of the public sector.

Cosla warned any further increase would lead to cuts to jobs and services.

Ann Farrell, Unite Scotland’s local authority committee chairwoman, said: “Unite members have emphatically rejected the revised pay offer.

“This outcome was inevitable in light of Cosla’s failure to properly and fairly reward the lowest-paid workers in local government.”

She said Unite will move towards a legal ballot and will urge members to back industrial action.

Meanwhile, around 80,000 members of Unison are also being balloted on the issue.

The consultative ballot opened on Tuesday and will close on November 7.

Unison’s Johanna Baxter said: “Our local services are delivered by one team and if Cosla and the Scottish Government really value the contribution all their staff make they must ensure that everyone who works in local government gets a fair and decent pay rise.”

Cosla resources spokeswoman, Annandale North Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “I am deeply disappointed that Unison are urging their membership to reject what is a very fair offer of 3% in a one-year deal – backdated to April.

“From a personal perspective I am also disappointed that with various ballots now under way and more on the horizon that my own priority of getting the backdated pay rise into the pay packets of our workforce looks unlikely to happen anytime soon.”

She said £350m is a “massive investment”, adding: “We asked the trade unions to take a realistic approach and accept our offer and then work together for a fairer local government settlement from the Scottish Government – but obviously this is not something that they are willing to do.”

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