Industrial action ballot launched—important details for members

Branch convener Graeme Smith and branch secretary Brian Robertson each hold a Unite flag and jointly hold an envelope reading notice of industrial action outside the Edinburgh City Chambers
Branch convener Graeme Smith and branch secretary Brian Robertson serve the notice of industrial action at the City Chambers

Unite launch industrial action ballots across all Scottish local authorities as pay dispute escalates 
Today, Unite the Union served notice of industrial action ballot to all 32 Scottish local authorities following an overwhelming rejection of the pay offer in a consultative ballot.
In the ballot:

  • 83% rejected pay offer
  • 74% indicated a willingness to take strike action. 

Important ballot information for members

We will conduct a ballot for industrial action of the following members:

  • all members in the Waste department
  • all school cleaners, catering staff and janitors.

Voting papers will be sent out on 21 September 2021.

If you have not received a voting paper by 28 September 2021 call Unite Edinburgh Office on 0131 556 9676.

The ballot closes on 7 October.

The names of the members to be balloted are available by contacting workplace reps Brian Robertson or Graeme Smith, or by contacting the Unite 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. If you know anyone who is away from work at the moment but who should be included in the ballot, please give their name.

If a mandate is received for industrial action, strike action is expected to take place from late October 2021 to late January 2022. 

Any striking worker will receive £70 a day strike pay from Unite.

Local government must be funded

Unite, the GMB and Unison, who jointly represent the vast majority of local government workers, have written to the Scottish Government on several occasions condemning their decision not to provide additional funding to COSLA to improve the pay offer.
The Accounts Commission report Local Government in Scotland – Overview 2021 highlighted the forecasted financial pressures of Covid alone totalling £855m, in addition to the £400m loss of income councils have experienced. 

Read all posts on the 2021 pay deal.

Imagine life without local government workers

Unite has repeatedly highlighted that local government workers have gone above and beyond in their response to the Covid pandemic. Last October, Unite launched its ‘Imagine Life Without Us’ campaign which focused on the “essential” roles of local government workers following a mass survey of 3,000 members.

The survey revealed that, of Unite’s local government members,

  • nearly three quarters were experiencing workplace stress
  • over half rated their workplace morale as “bad or terrible”
  • 41% were regularly working beyond their contracted hours. Nearly one in four said the additional hours were unpaid. 

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, said: 

Unite’s local government membership have demonstrated their overwhelming rejection of the derisory pay offer. It equates to 19p per day extra for those low paid workers on £25,000 a year.  Let’s remember that more than half of all local government workers earn less than this figure with the majority of those being predominantly women. Many of our members have also had to apply for top-ups from the state to keep them above the breadline.
It’s shameful that the previous commitment to jointly explore meeting the cost of professional fees such as the SSSC for social carers has also been withdrawn. It’s unforgivable that neither COSLA nor the Scottish Government believe that paying this fee is fair, despite a number of local authorities already having committed to meeting the SSSC registration costs. It’s an insult to all low paid health and social care workers who have supported the vulnerable in communities when families were unable to do so over the past 18 months.
COSLA and the Scottish Government should be ashamed that they are forcing local government workers into taking industrial action. Both have a duty to get back round the negotiating table with a fair offer. If they do not then an autumn and winter of industrial unrest awaits. Unite’s local government workers will no longer tolerate being treated as the poor relation in our public services.

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