Scotland strikes: As public sector strikes loom, disruption and unrest feel increasingly inevitable

Calum Steele, the general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), isn’t one to mince his words, which is one reason why journalists like him.

There is “palpable anger” across the force, he warned over the weekend, following a "derisory" pay offer amounting to about 2 per cent for most members.

The SPF, which represents all officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, has been pushing for a 3.4 per cent rise.

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Workers across Scotland are pushing for better pay dealsWorkers across Scotland are pushing for better pay deals
Workers across Scotland are pushing for better pay deals

Police officers have legal limits on the industrial action they can take, but Mr Steele told the BBC there are “many options that are available to us”, adding: “We're looking strongly at all of them.

"The good will that this police service runs on is undoubtedly disappearing faster than snow off the proverbial dyke."

The prospect of sustained action by police officers will send a shiver down the spines of Scottish ministers.

Good will is fast evaporating elsewhere too.

Council workers could be set to walk out after the Unison, Unite and GMB unions rejected a “paltry” 2 per cent pay offer from Cosla, the local authority umbrella body.

There are warnings a strike could lead to school closures and waste “piling up on the streets”.

Cosla, for its part, has criticised a lack of cash from the Government.

"As things stand, the only option available to councils is yet fewer jobs and cuts to services that are essential to communities everywhere,” it said.

Meanwhile, the EIS teaching union has also rejected a 2 per cent pay offer and placed Cosla and the Government on notice “that come the autumn, we will be strike ready if required”.

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Last week saw an apparent breakthrough in the pay dispute between the newly nationalised ScotRail and its train drivers.

Negotiators for Aslef, the union representing drivers, recommended acceptance of an improved 5 per cent deal after weeks of disruption.

This includes 2.2 per cent funded by government agency Transport Scotland to recognise cost-of-living challenges.

One union figure told me this deal had “raised the bar” for its workers, who are making comparisons with their own offers.

The Government has already paved the way for public sector cuts in coming years, citing tight finances.

As union leaders point to the precedent set by the ScotRail deal, disruption and unrest now feel increasingly inevitable.



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