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Aberdeenshire Council staff vote to strike, as early as mid-August

By Lewis McBlane

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UNITE the union has confirmed today (Wednesday, July 27) that Aberdeenshire Council staff have voted to strike over a proposed two per cent pay rise offer.

Aberdeenshire Council's waste and refuse services could be affected by the strikes.
Aberdeenshire Council's waste and refuse services could be affected by the strikes.

Dates have not been set for the strikes, but Unite say that action by employees from refuse and waste services is expected in mid-August.

Action affecting schools could begin at the start of September.

The union has called the two per cent pay offer "derisory" and claims that rising inflation means the proposed rise is actually a significant pay cut.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The message for both the Scottish Government and COSLA is crystal clear: thousands upon thousands of members won’t tolerate real terms pay cuts anymore and they have had enough.

"Our members are being forced to take this action due to a derisory pay offer, and we will support them in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”

COSLA has claimed that a larger pay rise is impossible without more support from Holyrood.

Their latest offer is a five per cent pay rise, but only if extra cash can be secured from the Scottish Government.

COSLA’s resources spokesperson Gail Macgregor said: “COSLA, every year, argues for fair funding for Local Government to maintain the essential services our communities rely on.

"No increase in our core funding damages these services and limits the options we have in successfully concluding pay negotiations.

"Refusal to engage in discussion will only see this continue and our communities will see and feel the difference.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Ministers note and respect the results of the local government industrial action ballots.

"Local government workers play a crucial role in our communities and are integral to our recovery from the pandemic.

“Although the Scottish Government has no formal role in the national local government pay negotiations, both the government and COSLA are working to jointly explore all of the options available to find solutions.

“In the meantime, the Scottish Government urges all parties to continue dialogue and seek a resolution which avoids industrial action.”

Unite represents thousands of local government workers, and balloted its members in schools and cleansing across all Scottish councils.

It is reported that more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 council workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, added: “Our members are at the end of their patience.

"They are being forced to take this action due to being completely undervalued despite working throughout the pandemic.

"Let’s be clear here: a 2% pay offer when the broader cost of living is at 11.8% is a punishing real terms pay cut.

"In the coming weeks we will now plan for targeted strike action in 26 councils across Scotland and the blame for this lies squarely with COSLA and the First Minister.”

Aberdeenshire is not the only local Council which could see workers striking, as 25 other Local Authorities have voted for industrial action.

The following Councils have voted in favour of strike action: Aberdeen, Angus, Argyll and Bute, City of Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Highland, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.

Unite’s members employed by Tayside Contracts have also voted in favour of industrial action which will result in schools in Perth and Kinross Council now being impacted.

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