COP26: Strike intervention from Scottish Government rejected by Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes has resisted calls to intervene in a pay dispute between schools and council workers and local authorities.

Unions announced on Monday they had notified COSLA – Scotland’s representative body for councils – that school cleaning, catering and janitorial staff would strike between November 8 and 12, alongside waste, recycling, and fleet maintenance services.

The dispute over pay covers around 200,000 local government workers covered by the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) negotiations, and comes ten months after the initial pay claim.

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, has rejected calls to intervene in a pay dispute between council workers and local authorities.

Workers are also calling on a pay increase due to the impact of working during the pandemic.

Scottish Labour warned the strike could see schools close if the Scottish Government does not intervene.

Mark Griffin, speaking in Holyrood, challenged finance secretary Kate Forbes to intervene to ensure schools would not close over the winter due to the dispute.

He said: “Does the Cabinet secretary believe we can keep schools open and safe in the middle of the pandemic with no cleansing or janitorial staff because they have had no pay lift, at all, for the duration of the pandemic?

“Notice for industrial action on November 8 to 12 has been served, but that could just be the beginning of a long winter of school closures and waste and recycling not being collected.”

Responding, Ms Forbes said the Scottish Government had no role in the pay dispute

"The Scottish Government is not a member of the SJC, has never taken part in these negotiations, although I am very clear that a resolution which is suitable for all sides and avoids industrial action is in all of our best interests,” she said.

“I go back to my original answer, which is recognising how critically important our frontline workers are, recognising the importance of a pay deal that reflects the work they have done, which is why the Scottish Government’s public sector pay deal is distinctive.

"It is far fairer than south of the border despite there being no consequentials for that.

"I sincerely hope that a resolution is found through the SJC, which is obviously based on negotiations between the trade unions and COSLA.”

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