Pay offer accepted—looking back on the strike

City Chambers demo on the first day of the 2022 strike. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Today, Unite members accepted the latest pay offer from COSLA, with 71% voting to accept. Read details of the offer and see what it means to you.

Edinburgh waste and cleansing workers led the fight for Scottish local government worker pay.

The strike proved what we knew all along—the undeniable value of waste and cleansing workers, the city’s disease prevention team whose work benefits citizens, businesses and tourists immeasurably, and the power these workers have when organised to take action. The impact was noticed within 12 hours. Edinburgh was turned upside down and this shock made the Scottish Government sit up and take it notice. The action of the waste and cleansing workers brought the First Minister to the table to negotiate a resolution, despite the government’s prior insistence that it had nothing to do with them.

Overwhelmingly, the public stood by us and recognised that our fight is their fight. The attacks on working people in this country are being resisted and we are at the forefront, showing that organised, disciplined workers are ready for the fight for fair pay to weather the cost of living crisis. Edinburgh residents and visitors have shown their support and solidarity, recognising that local government workers are essential, yet unappreciated and unvalued by the Scottish Government.

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ATEC under attack—Unite fights back!

Workers in the Monitoring and Response Service of ATEC24, previously known as the Community Alarm Service, have endured understaffing, changes imposed without consultation and a toxic workplace culture. The service has experienced radical changes recently with the outsourcing of the call handling element of the Monitoring and Response Officers’ (MRO) job.

In much of this, workers have not had an effective voice. By excluding those that do the job on the ground and know the service best, we have seen a host of issues in the service.

Many workers believe the service is being ‘run into the ground’, with long-term understaffing and a refusal to recruit and exclusion from future planning for the service.

Read about Unite in ATEC24

Industrial action ballot

As a result of the on-going problems and the urgency of the risks to workers and vulnerable citizens, we are balloting for industrial action in the area.

The ballot went live on 20 July and closes on Wednesday 3 August.

Outcomes

We are calling for

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Vote YES for fair pay—week 4 of the ballot

Night shift at Seafield Depot

The ballot for industrial action over pay was issued on 10 June. Many of you have now returned this, however we need all members to have their say in this crucial vote.

If you haven’t voted, please do so now.

If you haven’t received your ballot, call 0131 556 9676 immediately to check your details with the office and get a replacement ballot.

COSLA’s offer of a 2% rise—in fact a dramatic pay cut, given that inflation is currently at 11.7%—is a slap in the face to the dedicated workforce in the Council. We must take a stand against this, so are recommending all workers vote YES for industrial action.

We have been non-stop raising the issue of Council worker pay and speaking to members to ensure the success of this ballot. Below you can see some of our actions over the past few weeks.

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Home care workers—let us know your thoughts

Complete the survey for home care workers

We have been meeting with home care workers to discuss the numerous issues in the area. To make sure all home care workers can have their voice heard on the issues that matter to them, we are running a survey for all home care workers in the Council.

Take the home care workers survey

We have collated a list of what workers have raised as the most pressing issues on our home care campaign page. These include:

  • regular unpaid work for handovers
  • transport issues, including parking problems and the cost of using a car for work with rapidly rising fuel costs
  • risks due to lone working without sufficient protection.

Industrial action ballot announced—fight for fair pay now!

Ballot to strike over the 2% pay offer announced

Today, Unite announced that we are launching a ballot for industrial action in all Scottish local authorities.

Please see below for the notice of ballot for Edinburgh and information on what this means to you.

Notice to members of forthcoming industrial action ballot

The Union intends to conduct a ballot for industrial action of the following members: All members within the Waste Department and all members within the School Workplaces.
 
Voting papers will be sent out on the 10th of June 2022.

If you have not received a voting paper by the 24th of June, you should contact your workplace reps or the Edinburgh Office IMMEDIATELY.
 
The names of the members to be balloted are available by contacting your workplace reps or the Edinburgh Office. If you are entitled to vote in the ballot please check that you are on the list and that your address is accurately recorded.

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Branch AGM 2022—the nominees

Join the branch AGM on Thursday 24 March

Your branch AGM will be held on Thursday 24 March from 4pm to 6:30pm—email graeme.smith2@unitetheunion.org to get your invite to come along.

Nominations closed on 28 February, please find the list of nominees and some comments on these below.

The nominations

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Budget Day demo—united in our call to invest in Council workers and jobs

On Thursday, we braved the chill and snow to demonstrate outside the City Chambers in solidarity with fellow trade unionists, activists and concerned citizens as the Council met to approve next year’s budget.

Read the budget papers and watch a webcast of the budget meeting, which includes the full deputations summarised below.

The Council have delivered a balanced budget for 2022/23, thanks to an underspend in 2021/22 and a 3% Council Tax rise, however the forecast for the years following looks bleak, with a gap in 2023/24 of around £55m with this gap increasing around £25m each year thereafter. The Council have said there must be a ‘robust savings plan’—which we know by now, translates to more cuts.

The demonstrators sought to raise awareness of the impact of cuts and call for measures to tackle the crises we face today that will be worsened by further cuts and by failing to change how the Council delivers services. We need a shake up and we need it now.

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