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.

Waste and Cleansing workers have won this for all local government workers in Scotland. Through taking action, you have brought an extra £600m to local government workers across Scotland—averaging around £1,500 extra pay per head—money we were told did not exist.

A huge thanks to all the striking workers.

To all those that have benefited from the sacrifices made by our striking workers, please consider donating to the strike fund.

Donate to the strike fund

Looking ahead

But this is not a brilliant pay deal, by any stretch of the imagination. For many, this is still a real-terms pay cut. What we have proved this year is that we will fight and we can win. We need to build on this strength and stay organised.

In Edinburgh, the Council have only budgeted for a 3% pay rise next year, and have noted that the pay deal increases the hole in next year’s budget by £3.1m. This is all due to long-term chronic underfunding of local government by the Scottish Government. We need to send the Scottish Government a clear message that unless they fund local government properly, they will be seeing much more strike action. The workers run the city—they can bring it grinding to a halt.

Blaming Westminster is no good. The Scottish Government have power over income tax. They can bring in a land tax. Council Tax can be reformed. Government at a local and national level can save money by cutting contractor and agency spend and stopping the millions going to consultants, as we have already seen in the farcical arrangements for the National Care Service. We have already seen threats that paying council workers means cutting services. This cynical message pits worker against worker and ignores many of the option available.

Our fight for fair pay is our fight to have the government use their powers in the interests of its people.

This is not to let Westminster off the hook. We have right-wing extremists in power in the UK, following a discredited, callous economic model that is hell-bent on delivering profits to the rich at the expense of everyone else. We need the Tories out!

The national fight is only one aspect. In Edinburgh, we need to

  • bring our agency workers in house
  • change the unfair job evaluation scheme, so jobs are graded and rewarded fairly
  • improve conditions and tackle the local issues across workplaces.

We can win these battles locally with the Council. To do so, we need to keep up the momemtum—the more we build and the more we organise, the more we can win.

Photos and solidarity

Bankhead picket. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Messages of solidarity

I stand by working people who deserve a decent living and pay rise in line with the rising cost of living. 


Graeme Smith, branch convener, with members at the City Chambers demonstration. Photo by Craig Maclean.

The workers of the UK are 100% behind you


This is what solidarity looks like—joining the RMT demonstration at Waverley on 18 August. Photo by Craig Maclean.

I fully support the strikes, and encourage a general strike. Please consider creating a new political party after the upcoming strikes – I am sure you will be inundated with support


Bankhead picket . Photo by Craig Maclean.

As an Edinburgh resident I wanted to say I give you my full support towards these strikes. ECG need to give a proper pay and conditions offer to the refuse workers and I support you striking for as long as it takes.


Striking Unite members demonstrating at the City Chambers for fair pay. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Marching from the City Chambers to the RMT demo on day 1 of the strike. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Brian Robertson, branch secretary, addresses the crowd at the RMT demo. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Unite activists march with Councillor Ross McKenzie. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Bankhead pickets. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Murrayburn picket on day 1. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Russell Road picket day 10

Striking members at the second City Chambers demo on 25 August

Burgess Road picket day 10

Demonstrating outside the COSLA office in Glasgow as leader meet inside on 23 August

Cowan’s Close picket day 8

Solidarity at the Bankhead picket. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Seafield picket on day 1

Striking members at the City Chambers demo. Photo by Craig Maclean.

Seafield picket on day 1

Labour councillors Lezley Marion Cameron and James Dalgleish at the City Chambers demo on day 1

Seafield picket with comrades from the RMT and Trade Unions in the Community

Bankhead pickets. Photo by Craig Maclean

Edinburgh Trade Unions Council and EIS march with us

Mary Alexander, Unite’s Depute Scottish Secretary and our branch officer

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