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Union threatens strike preparations over council pay dispute with Cosla

Strike preparation may begin as early as next week as anger grows over local government pay talks, a union has said.

Unison, the union representing 85,000 council workers, has accused local government body Cosla of “learning nothing” from significant industrial action which closed schools last year.

The union said staff were due a cost-of-living pay increase in April after a claim was submitted to Cosla in January.

However, it is understood the union has not yet had a response.

The pay claim saw the union ask for an above one-year inflation increase for those on the lowest wages, on top of the previously agreed plan to introduce the minimum rate to £15 per hour by 2026.

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It also asks for a 7% increase to all spinal columns – or pay scales – or a £1.60 increase to the hourly rate, whichever is greater.

Last year, schools in several parts of the country closed over the dispute before it was eventually resolved.

Addressing the latest pay dispute, David O’Connor, Unison’s local government organiser, said: “Cosla has to understand the growing anger among local government workers over how they are treated year after year in pay negotiations.

“It is no wonder local government workers are left feeling disappointed and frustrated when their employers haven’t even bothered to respond to the pay claim.

“Without investment in the local government workforce there will be no public services – Cosla must recognise local government workers for the vital services they provide and ensure they are fairly rewarded.”

Colette Hunter, the union’s local government chair, said: “It would appear that Cosla has learned nothing from last year’s pay dispute which resulted in school closures across Scotland.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is take strike action, but if Cosla continue to ignore our pay claim then we may be left with no choice.

“While strike action is always a last resort, our local government committee is currently considering all options and preparations for strike action could begin as early as next week.”

A Cosla spokeswoman said: “Council leaders will meet this Friday (April 26) to consider a report on the SJC pay claims for 2024/25.”