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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Second wave of strike action in Edinburgh starts 6 September—suspended

Photo by Craig Maclean Photography

This action is suspended—see the latest on the pay dispute

Members in Waste and Cleansing will walk out again from Tuesday 6 to Tuesday 13 September as the dispute over local government pay in Scotland continues.

Schools workers in Edinburgh are not on strike.

Striking members should read the strike FAQ and add any questions at the bottom.

Pickets remain as before. See picket locations.

Donate to the strike fund to support these workers.

Latest offer

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Edinburgh waste and cleansing strikes start on Thursday

Edinburgh lead the way in industrial action over local government pay

On Thursday 18th, Unite members in Waste and Cleansing in Edinburgh will take industrial action over the insulting pay offer for local government workers.

On Friday, COSLA increased the offer from 2% to 3.5%. All three unions of the Scottish Joint Council—Unite, Unison and GMB—immediately rejected this insulting offer.

The NHS have been offered—and look set to reject—5%, so once again local government is treated as the poor relation of the public sector. Local government workers in England have been offered a rise of £1,925.

We are the first council to take action, with others following on the 24th—details below.

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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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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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Back to the Floor… in Facilities Management

Unite CEC Branch have been working with HR in the Council on an initiative called Back to the Floor, which takes managers and takes them ‘back to the floor’ for a day, working in a frontline role. The initiative aspires to foster understanding of the challenges faces on the frontline and to encourage empathetic relationships, letting management get firsthand experience of the conditions faced by our essential workers.

The pandemic created a gulf between management and frontline staff. Management adapted to working from home, with human contact often happening digitally, and dealt with continually changing guidance and circumstances they have to consider in their decision making. Frontline workers have experienced increased workloads and greatly increased risks to health and safety and have found themselves subject to rapidly changing decisions, all with a backdrop of rising costs of living and often low pay. The Back to the Floor initiative seeks to bridge this gulf.

Mark Stenhouse gets back to the floor

The first area the initiative has run in has been Facilities Management, where Mark Stenhouse, the Head of Facilities Management, got back to the floor working with cleaning staff.

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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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