Talks call to halt public-service strike chaos
SCOTLAND'S council employers offered to reopen negotiations with the unions last night in an attempt to avoid further disruptive strike action which paralysed services across the country yesterday.
Union leaders said an estimated 150,000 workers from the unions Unison, Unite and the GMB, took part in the one-day strike over pay which closed schools, left rubbish uncollected and disrupted ferry services.
Hundreds of schools were closed while some of those which remained in operation were only open to some age groups. Even when schools remained open, in many cases there was no meals service.
The pay row centres on a rise of 2.5 per cent for each of the next three years, an offer unions say is "derisory" in the face of the rising cost of living.
In a separate dispute, Scottish Government civil servants in the PCS union staged a one-day stoppage over what they claim is an imposed 2 per cent pay rise.
A spokesman for Unison, the main local government union, yesterday said that further strike action was likely unless there was movement from the employers – the local government organisation Cosla.
Councillor Michael Cook, a Cosla spokesman, said: "
It is in no-one's interest for there to be further disruption, least of all the people in our communities who most rely on the services provided by councils and their employees. The only way to resolve this is by negotiation and I would urge the unions to meet us and to jointly reach a solution to the difficult situation that we all find ourselves in. We have always been willing to talk – that willingness remains the same."
Alex Salmond, the First Minister, has made it clear he believes increasing public-sector wage inflation will only deepen the economic slowdown.
However, John Swinney, the finance secretary, remained neutral on the issue and appealed to both sides to negotiate.
He said: "It is for the unions and local authorities to resolve this dispute and avoid further disruption to public services.
"That can only be done through negotiation and we are encouraging both sides to get round the table to reach agreement."
Edinburgh had 23 primary schools and three secondaries closed to all pupils, while other schools in the capital were closed to some age groups.
No trade waste was collected in the city centre – but the city's parking attendants remained on duty.
In Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, Unison said pickets agreed to an exemption request for staff to go back to work to protect an old people's residential home from flooding.
In Dundee, all nursery, primary and secondary schools were closed apart from one primary and a special school, while no bin collections or street cleaning took place.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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