Scottish school closures move closer as union names strike dates for next month

Almost a third of council areas in Scotland would be impacted

School closures have moved a step closer across much of Scotland after a trade union announced strike plans for two days next month.

GMB Scotland said non-teaching school staff would walk out on September 13 and 14 in impacted council areas unless there was a breakthrough in pay talks.

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Unite members have also voted to strike, while Unison is currently consulting its members on industrial action.

A teacher and students in a classroom. Image: PAA teacher and students in a classroom. Image: PA
A teacher and students in a classroom. Image: PA

The impact is expected to vary by council area, and by school, but could lead to closures.

GMB members involved include those working across school and nursery catering, cleaning, pupil support, administration and janitorial services.

The action will be taken by members in Aberdeen, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Orkney, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, and Western Isles.

Unison has warned of “mass school closures across Scotland” if its members vote to strike in a ballot, which closes on August 25.

The unions say the dispute escalated after council umbrella body Cosla failed to improve on the 5 per cent pay offer during talks last week.

Cosla insisted that a “strong offer” had been made which “compares well to other sectors”.

But Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser for public services, warned that talks scheduled for next Friday, August 25, would be the final opportunity to avert disruptive strikes.

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“The latest figures show that, despite rising wages, pay is still being outstripped by inflation,” he said.

“The pay offer to council workers does not come close to matching the surging cost of living and one that is worth less with every month that passes.

“Scotland stands on the shoulders of our local authority workers and the value of their work must be reflected in their salaries.

“Cosla has refused to seriously engage with our members during what has been a protracted, frustrating process. If they had, parents and pupils would not now be facing disruption.

“Cosla and Scottish ministers need to engage now or risk turning a crisis into a calamity.”

A Cosla spokesperson said: “The reality of the situation is that as employers, council leaders have made a strong offer to the workforce.

"A strong offer which clearly illustrates the value councils place on their workforce, and it compares well to other sectors. It recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and critically, it seeks to protect jobs and services.

“While the offer value in year is 5.5 per cent, the average uplift on salaries going into the next financial year is 7 per cent.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Local government pay negotiations are a matter for local authorities as employers and unions.

"The Scottish Government and Cosla have committed to respect this negotiating arrangement as part of the Verity House Agreement.

"Despite UK Government cuts, the Scottish Government has provided a further £155 million to support a meaningful pay rise for local government workers, which has been taken into account in the pay offer already made by Cosla.

"The Scottish Government urges all the parties involved to work together constructively and reach an agreement which is fair for the workforce and affordable for employers.”



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