UNISON UNITE and the GMB are balloting members to refuse the pay deal and pursue strike action as their members have continued to provide essential services throughout the pandemic, often exceeding their normal hours and facing difficult circumstances to do so.Marie Quigley, branch secretary of UNISON North Lanarkshire, said: “The offer made by COSLA was simply lifted from the Scottish Government’s public sector pay policy and presented to our members.
"This was a pay policy that the Scottish Government breached when they offered a minimum pay rise of 4% to colleagues in the NHS backdated to 1st December 2020.”The unions are angered that their members have not been given a 16-month pay increase in line with NHS staff while also incurring additional costs without being reimbursed.
Some workers have also been chosen to received a £500 Covid reward payment while others performing the same duties will not. UNISON North Lanarkshire branch chair Willie Shearer questioned what would have happened had frontline workers not delivered at this point in time – from collecting rubbish, maintaining hygiene in council buildings and working in cemeteries.
He said: “The need for our services was not reduced, it was monumentally increased. Housing, customer service teams, cleaners, catering staff, and home care workers delivering care in our communities, in childcare hubs, social work staff maintaining services to protect the most vulnerable adults and children.”
A North Lanarkshire Council spokesperson said: “Pay for local government staff is negotiated at a national level through COSLA, not locally by the council.Therefore it would be inappropriate for the council to comment on the details of the negotiations.“However, the council completely agrees that council staff across the board have been essential throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and recognises the efforts teams across all services have made.A COSLA spokesperson added: “ This offer remains on the table whilst we continue with on-going constructive negotiations.”