Council Pay and Cost of Living

The financial case for a pay rise

The media is regularly talking about the cost of living crisis and, as consumers, we can see this clearly in price increases in shops, petrol stations, energy bills etc.  However, whilst we know everyday costs are rising, we don’t have a clear picture of what this means to our wages and therefore our purchasing power.  Nor can we see clearly what a pay rise may mean for us in this context, in both immediate and longer runs. 

The straightforward logic says that if inflation is at 11.7% then anything lower than this is a pay cut.  Certainly, the paltry 2% offer from CoSLA looks very much like a pay cut but we feel that some hard numbers are required to support this notion.

In an attempt to get a better understanding of this problem we looked at a sample of jobs in the City of Edinburgh Council that pay less than £25,000 per annum for a 36 hour working week.  We used the current pay (defined by the CEC pay and grading structure April 2021) as a baseline.  Grades 2 and 3 used pay at the top of the grade, for grades 4 and 5 the mid-point was selected. Pay used in this analysis is that before deductions. Table 1 below shows the current grade and full-time (i.e.36hrs) pay for each of the identified council roles.

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Local government pay dispute update

Following the result of the consultative ballot on CoSLA’s recent adjustment to the pay offer for 2021/22, our Local Authority Regional Industrial Sector Committee (RISC) has contacted the employer to notify of Unite members’ acceptance of the offer.

However, our RISC has also issued the employer with a warning that the struggle for decent pay and terms and conditions does not end here as next year’s pay negotiations start now. Please see latest newsletter here and read our press release below:

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Pay update

Following a barely and poorly revised offer from the employer (CoSLA) through the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) Unite is holding a consultative ballot of Local Government Employee members to gain members views on the new offer.

Members will receive a ballot by email, text or post depending on individual preferences and information available to Unite. The ballot consists of two questions: 1. whether to accept or reject the offer; 2. on willingness to participate in industrial action. The email comes from UniteScotland and is entitled “Local Authorities Consultative Pay Ballot – August 2021“. Please check your emails. It was sent Monday 23rd August. Should you not receive your ballot contact Unite by calling: 01414045424

The new offer comprises:

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Pay negotiations update

Poster with the text £70 a day strike pay. With Unite on your side, it's easier for council workers to take a stand for a fair and decent pay rise. Act now - go to to make sure your contact details are up to date.

Unite has received a response from the Finance Minister, Kate Forbes, regarding our recent letter on Local Government Employees’ pay.

In her letter she reiterates her commendation and thanks to local government workers. However she has made it quite clear that her thanks does not stretch to financially rewarding our hard work in the fight against a pandemic that has affected and changed the working lives of all local government workers.

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Fantastic Festive Wishes

It’s Christmas and we had considered publishing a bumper Christmas Annual to celebrate the year past and look forward to the year to come. However, when we started writing it we became too depressed and decided to discontinue as we didn’t want to spoil anyone’s festive break.

We’ll come back in the new year with a review and look ahead so if you wish to publish anything (editorial being the preserve of the branch officials), comment on anything or make suggestions please send these to the branch secretary (email address below). A brief newsletter is also available below if you wish.

Socialist Santa
Socialist Santa

In the meantime have a great holiday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all @unitececbranch

Branch Secretary:

CEC Branch Winter Update 2018


Unison join Unite in rejecting CoSLA pay offer

Our comrades in Unison today joined the growing throng of Local Government workers across Scotland who feel insulted by the derisory 3% pay offer from CoSLA.

Unison’s rejection of the pay offer is almost exactly the same as Unite’s.  Union members have spoken,  CoSLA and the Scottish Government should listen carefully.

Members of Unite, Unison and GMB will demonstrate outside the CoSLA offices to tell CoSLA and the Scottish Government that 3% IS A PAY CUT 

Unite the Union, UNISON and GMB Demo – Friday 9th November 12.30pm in Haymarket in Edinburgh.

12.30pm to 1,30pm
Verity House
19 Haymarket Yards
EH12 5BH


CoSLA Pay Offer

CoSLA, on Friday 7th September 2018, issued a Final Pay Offer to Local Government workers.  The offer is:

i. The pay offer is for one year and covers the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. The award will be back dated to the 1 April 2018 application date.

ii. A 3% pay increase will apply to all employees earning up to £80,000, rather than the previous threshold of £36,500. This means that all SJC employees would receive a 3% pay increase.

iii. The Scottish Local Government Living Wage (SLGLW) will increase from £8.51 to £8.77 and will continue to be the minimum rate of pay in Scottish local government, paid on the same terms as agreed in the 2017-18 pay award.

This offer is an insult to low paid, hardworking local government workers who have suffered a real terms decrease in wages every year for over 10 years.  It is marginally above the July inflation rate, as measured by the Conservative Government’s present favoured tool the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which excludes housing costs, but below the Retail Price Index (RPI) which includes housing costs.  CPI in July was 2.5%, RPI was 3.2%.  Remember, mortgage interest rates are going up, rents will be going up and Council Tax (as a result of austerity depriving Local Authorities of funding) increases by 3% year on year.

Unite, along with other unions, sought a 6.5% pay increase for next year with a view to regular annual above inflation increases over the subsequent 4 years which would return our pay to approaching the level it was pre 2008 financial crisis and before the Conservative and coalition governments enacted their ideologically driven Austerity programmes.  We also sought a minimum rise for all workers of £1500 (pro rata) and parity with all other Local Government pay groups (i.e. Teachers, Craft/Trade workers, Chief Officers).  Whilst the notion of parity has been accepted in principle by both CoSLA and the Scottish Government we have not seen, in this offer, any actions that tangibly demonstrate this acceptance as it seems that offers have not yet been made to the other groups.

Responding to the joint Trade Union demands CoSLA presented an offer that was barely different from the present one (see point ii above).  This was not accepted by union negotiators and, after some representations to the Scottish Government CoSLA have presented this offer that makes everyone poorer.  Overall, it is difficult to use the word “negotiation” in connection with this process.

As a consequence of this offer Unite the Union will be balloting members in Local Government across Scotland and firmly recommending rejection of the offer.  The reason for this is that this offer does nothing to address the hardships and poverty being experienced by many members and merely slows down the annual rate by which our pay doesn’t match up with our expenses.  Our pay has been cut for many years now, the only difference with this offer is that it is being cut a little less this year.

The first ballot will be a Consultative Ballot (non-binding).  An Industrial Action one may follow this.  As a Unite the Union member and City of Edinburgh Council employee please ensure that the union has your up to date and correct contact details, in order that you are able to participate in the democratic process.  You may wish to complete the  Ballot data form Sep 18