More strikes likely to hit vital services as union urges council workers to reject 3% pay offer
ONE of the country's biggest unions, the GMB, dealt a blow to hopes of a deal in the local government pay dispute yesterday by recommending that its members reject a new pay offer.
Up to 150,000 council workers from three unions have been taking industrial action over the past two months in protest against a 2.5 per cent pay offer from Cosla, the local government employers' group.
After the last one-day strike, Cosla increased the offer to 3 per cent for a year, reverting to 2.5 per cent for the following year.
The unions suspended their action and promised to consult members. Yesterday, the GMB announced that its leadership had decided to recommend rejection of the offer.
This leaves the future of the pay deal in the hands of the remaining two unions, Unison and Unite.
Alex McLuckie, GMB Scotland's senior organiser, said: "GMB shop stewards, representing 26,000 GMB members, considered this offer. They felt it did not go far enough.
"Given the high levels of inflation, the 3 per cent would need to increase to reflect the significant increase they are seeing in the cost of living."
GMB members will be balloted over four to five weeks.
A spokesman for Unison said the union was holding a special conference tomorrow and its position would become clearer after that.
No-one from Unite was available for comment yesterday. However, a senior union source said he was "not surprised" by the GMB decision.
The unions believe that, because inflation is running as high as 5 per cent by some calculations, what they have been offered actually amounts to a pay cut, and they want more from their employers to help their members cope with rising costs, particularly of food and fuel.
Cosla has to work within the settlement given to it by the Scottish Government, and has insisted since the start of this dispute that the employers simply do not have the resources to fund an increased award.
Michael Cook, Cosla's human resource spokesman, said: "Obviously I am disappointed. This offer really is at the extremes of affordability."
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