Pay update—offer rejected and first wave of school strikes to go ahead

All schools in Edinburgh to close on 26, 27 and 28 September due to strike action

Unison members working in schools in Edinburgh will be on strike on 26, 27 and 28 September. This is the first wave of strikes in the fight for a fair pay deal for local government workers across Scotland, with workers in schools across Scotland striking on these dates.

Here, we address the frequently asked questions. Let us know if you have any others by commenting below and we’ll answer them here. We’ve split the details in to what is happening in Edinburgh and the national context.

In Edinburgh

What happens on the strike days?

Unison members are on strike. Unite and GMB did not have enough members voting in the ballot to take strike action.

All schools are closed to pupils. Pupils will be doing online learning.

There will be no breakfast clubs or school lets. Families that receive free school meals will get a payment.

There may be picket lines at schools.

What do I do for work?

Choosing to work during a strike is a personal choice. It is important you read our pages on when others are on strike so you can make an informed decision.

If you do go to work you should not cover the duties of any striking worker, nor should you do any duties outwith your job description. We are awaiting a list of tasks to ensure workers are not given unreasonable requests for these dates.

What if I don’t want to cross a picket?

If you do not go to work you will lose pay for those days. You will not be disciplined.

You do not have to tell your manager if you are in a union or which union you are a member of. Union membership is ‘special category’ data under GDPR so any attempt to find or store this information must be reported to us immediately.

What action is next?

These are the only dates that have been announced.

We are looking to ballot other areas of the Council, including Waste and Cleansing. It is important that any action brings the Scottish Government to the table.

The National picture

What is the strike about?

The strike is a dispute over the annual pay increase for all local government workers in Scotland.

Local government unions—Unite, Unison and GMB—negotiate with COSLA over pay, however COSLA does not hold the purse strings and have shown themselves to be ineffective in the negotiations.

The purpose of the strike is to bring the Scottish Government to table to secure funding for a proper pay rise.

What is the pay offer on the table?

COSLA offered council workers a pay deal worth between 5 and 7% in April. All unions balloted members on this and members overwhelmingly voted to reject the offer.

COSLA then made an updated offer on 14 September. This convoluted offer was still a significant real-terms pay cut. It amounted to around 38p a week extra from the first offer. All unions rejected this offer straight away. Read the 14 September offer.

What deal would the unions accept?

Unions are made of and led by their members. A trade union representative or committee cannot accept a pay offer—this can only be done following a vote by members.

The pay claim that was put to COSLA in January was for 12% or £4,000.

Which other councils are striking?

Unite are striking in 11 councils, Unison in 24 and GMB in 10. See the list of other councils with a strike mandate.

Is the strike for school workers pay?

No, not specifically. It is for the pay increase for all local government workers in Scotland.

Why did you only ballot workers in schools?

The Trade Union Act 2016 introduced a threshold for ballot turnout that unions had to meet when they ballot their members for industrial action. Over 50% of members need to vote in a ballot. This is difficult to achieve with large ballots—especially ones covering many different workplaces and jobs—so unions do ‘selective balloting’, focusing on certain groups of workers.

Last year, we balloted members in Waste and Cleansing. This year, school workers were chosen. This is decided following discussions within each union’s local government committee, then discussions between unions.

Where can I find more information?

Read all posts about pay 2023 for the full background to the dispute.

Read our guide to industrial action to find out what happens when workers in the Council are on strike and how the pay negotiations work.

The Council’s page on school closures has information from the employer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *