Dear Nicola Sturgeon, stop playing political games over council strikes – Brian Wilson

Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB union, rightly says that “political games” are being played over the wage offer to Scotland’s public sector workers as industrial action bites.

He points out that local authority funding has been ruthlessly cut over the past decade. As confirmed repeatedly by independent researchers, these cuts have run at several times the rate of any fiscal inconvenience suffered by the Scottish Government itself.

Now we have Nicola Sturgeon pretending that Cosla are masters in their own house. She scolds them for not offering a “decent” five per cent rise. Virtuous Ms Sturgeon versus recalcitrant councils in the interests of the workers? I think not.

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Cosla is now controlled by the SNP who went to some trouble to ensure this outcome with the help of a few naïve independents. When Ms Sturgeon privately tells Cosla’s leadership to jump, it will jump and the money will magically appear.

Nicola Sturgeon should treat local government with respect and eschew artificial brinkswomanship over council strikes (Picture: Jane Barlow/pool/Getty Images)
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So what we are going through is, as Mr Smith suggested, a political game – just like the ScotRail dispute after the Scottish Government took over which would not have happened if the offer Aslef ultimately accepted was available earlier.

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The problem is that, in each case, there are victims – the public who now face the consequences of low-paid workers’ industrial action until the Scottish Government decide it is time to emerge as heroes of the hour.

There is an alternative. Stop playing games, treat local government with respect and spare us any more of this artificial brinkswomanship.

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