Unions to consider revised Cosla offer as rubbish mounts on streets of Edinburgh

Union officials will meet this week to consider a revised pay offer for local government employees across Scotland, as action by refuse workers saw rubbish piling up on the streets of Edinburgh.

Cosla, the council umbrella body, has upped its offer to an overall five per cent pay increase in a last-ditch attempt to avoid strike action across the country. The offer would also see the Scottish Government local government living wage increase to £10.50.

However, it remains unclear if the revised pay proposal - an increase on Cosla’s second offer of 3.5 per cent - will be enough to stop ongoing and future industrial action.

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Alison MacLean, Unite’s industrial officer, has pointed out that while the new offer represented an “improvement,” it came at a time when inflation has hit a 40 year high.

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She said Unite’s local government committee will “urgently consider” the new offer, but strikes planned for later this week remain on the cards.

Keir Greenaway, Scotland senior organiser at the GMB union, said that Cosla’s latest proposals will be considered by its local government committee.

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The GMB has stressed that any deal must see the lowest paid workers receive the biggest cash increases.

It comes as residents, tourists, and Fringe performers in Edinburgh continued to upload photographs and videos of widespread litter throughout the city, with cleansing workers remaining on strike.

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Rubbish has been piling up in streets around Edinburgh since the strike action began.
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Around 250 members of staff walked out on Thursday, with the action not scheduled to conclude until 30 August, the day following the end of the Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals.

Comedian Eleanor Morton said Edinburgh was “looking shocking” with “rubbish everywhere,” while Dougie Morgan said he was “ashamed” to be in the city.

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Addressing a tweet to the City of Edinburgh Council about the “embarrassing” state of the streets, he said: “How can you welcome visitors from all over the world with the pavements of Edinburgh strewn with rubbish. Get it sorted.!

Others said members of the public should show more consideration when disposing of their rubbish during the strike action.

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Comedian Martin Mor, currently performing at the Fringe, uploaded an image of a crammed bin to Twitter.

He wrote: “Why do people think it’s ok to litter rather than accept this bin is full and just take their rubbish with them and dispose of it in a way that doesn’t cause problems for other people.”

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Edinburgh has suspended waste collections and closed its recycling centres and is advising residents to store their rubbish at home.

Similar strikes are due to begin in 14 other councils across Scotland on Wednesday and last until August 31.

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Ms Maclean said: "It has taken Cosla over five months to make an offer which we can take to our members for consideration. While the five per cent offer is an improvement, it is important to emphasise that it comes at a time when broader inflation has now hit a 40-year high at 12.3 per cent [according to the Retail Prices Index]. Unite's local government committee will urgently consider this latest offer. At this juncture the strikes for next week continue as planned.”

Garry Clark, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said Edinburgh needed to look good as the Festival returned fully for the first time after Covid. “It's our shop window to the world. Edinburgh has reopened. We want to encourage people to spend time out and about, not being put off by all the rubbish.”

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