Glasgow cleansing workers vote to strike after “insulting” pay increase offer

Glasgow is set to be hit by strike action which could impact cleansing, catering, janitorial and cleaners, after workers rejected a 2% pay increase offered by COSLA and said it was “insulting” in the face of a cost of living and energy crisis
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Cleansing staff from the GMB union are set to take part in strike action later this year, as members said they will not be forced into “workplace poverty”.

Glasgow was also one of nine local authorities across Scotland where Unison members voted to take strike action. This means industrial action in the city is also likely to impact schools, early years centres, nurseries and waste and recycling centres.

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GMB convenor Chris Mitchel said: “Across Scotland all the major cities have a mandate to take industrial action in waste.

“GMB members have had enough of insulting pay offers as they battle the cost of living crisis. We can no longer sit back and be forced into workplace poverty. The only way to kick the economy is to start with a pay rise that is in line with inflation so then we start spending in the local economy and communities that are suffering.

“The Scottish Government really need to listen and give COSLA more money to achieve this – if they are claiming to help with the cost of living crisis and energy crisis then this must be the start of it, because if they don’t it will be a summer of disruption. This is something we all want to avoid but unfortunately the power lies within COSLA and the Scottish government to do the right thing.”

And Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government said: “COSLA leaders meet on Friday and must put an improved offer on the table if we are to avoid large-scale disruption to council services across Scotland.

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“Council workers south of the border yesterday were offered a flat rate uplift of £1925, which for those on the lowest pay equates to a 10.5% increase. You have to wonder why council workers north of the border have only been offered a measly 2% increase when the cost of living continues to spiral. UNISON have been calling for a flat rate payment to help those on lower incomes. Most council workers earn less than £25k per year.

“It is clear now that local government workers have had enough and are prepared to strike in the coming weeks unless we see a sensible offer, from COSLA, on the table on Friday.

“This is the largest strike ballot by local government workers in over a decade and the first-time workers across Scotland have voted to take strike action in these numbers. It really shouldn’t take this for them to receive the recognition, respect and reward that they deserve.”

The Scottish Government says it has no formal role in local government pay negotiations and that it and COSLA are working jointly to explore all options available to find a solution.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Ministers note and respect the results of the local government industrial action ballots. Local government workers play a crucial role in our communities and are integral to our recovery from the pandemic.

“Although the Scottish Government has no formal role in the national local government pay negotiations, both the government and COSLA are working to jointly explore all of the options available to find solutions.

“In the meantime, the Scottish Government urges all parties to continue dialogue and seek a resolution which avoids industrial action.”

Meanwhile COSLA said they valued all their workforce and they hoped to avoid strike action.

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A spokesperson said: “COSLA leaders are clear that they value hugely the Local Government workforce, which is why discussions with our trade union colleagues continue, in order to reach an agreement and avoid strike action.

“As employers we have a responsibility to ensure that any pay deal offered is both sustainable and affordable and that is why we are unable to go beyond the current offer at this point. As mandated by Leaders, we are currently in discussions with the Scottish Government and await their response to leaders’ request for additional funding.”

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken, who has previously gone on the record supporting a fair settlement, was also asked for comment but a spokesman on her behalf said that she didn’t have anything else to add at this stage.

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