School strikes Scotland: Edinburgh councillors challenged by trade union to back strike action

Elected members told to stay away from picket lines unless they are ‘fully committed’

Councillors in Edinburgh have been challenged to back workers in a pay battle that could close city schools.

The local branch of the Unison trade union have contacted all elected members, urging them to “lend your voice to our cause”. It was announced last week that Unison members in 24 council areas, including Scotland’s four biggest cities, had backed strike action after rejecting an average pay increase of 5.5 per cent.

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The strikes will involve catering, cleaning, pupil support, administration and janitorial staff in schools and nurseries. They are expected to lead to the closure of schools and nurseries across much of Scotland, unless an 11th-hour deal can be struck.

Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture: Neil Hanna.Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture: Neil Hanna.
Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture: Neil Hanna.

Unite and the GMB unions have also said its members have backed strike action in ten council areas, with GMB planning walk-outs on September 13 and 14.

In his letter to Edinburgh councillors, who are due to meet at a full council meeting today, Unison branch secretary Tom Connolly challenged them to support the staff.

"We call on all councillors to ensure that the monies allocated to the pay award are increased and recognise that staff employed in the council are worth much more than you have previously recognised,” he said.

"We demand that the council leader takes a lead in the meetings that he attends at Cosla and stops procrastinating in moving the issue of a decent and meaningful pay award. We would also work with the council to lobby the Scottish Government to allocate more funding for local government pay.”

Tom Connolly of Unison said the closures were 'devastating' for care home residentsTom Connolly of Unison said the closures were 'devastating' for care home residents
Tom Connolly of Unison said the closures were 'devastating' for care home residents

Mr Connolly added: “If you believe in the principles of fairness, equality and a dignified standard of living, we ask that you lend your voice to our cause. Please do not consider showing up at a picket line merely for a photo opportunity unless you are fully committed to supporting our campaign for fair and better pay award.

"Let us stand united in ensuring that the hard-working individuals who shape our city’s present and future are duly recognised and rewarded. Our members are worth more, and we look forward to your unwavering support.”

Council Leader Cammy Day said: “We have repeatedly asked Cosla and the Scottish Government to come together to allocate more funding for local government pay settlements, but our proposals have been defeated on at least two occasions.

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"I stand behind our trade union colleagues for a fair pay settlement and would urge them to work with us to ensure the Scottish Government and Cosla get around the table and put an end to any intended strike actions.”

Dates for Unison’s strikes are expected to be confirmed in coming days. Local authority umbrella body Cosla has been discussing its next steps.

Cosla previously said a “strong offer” was made to the workforce, which “compares well to other sectors”, while recognising cost-of-living pressures and seeking to protect jobs and services.

The Scottish Government has said local government pay negotiations are a matter for local authorities and unions.



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