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Warning over local government pay talks

Lerwick Town Hall.

THE LEADER of Shetland Islands Council (SIC) has repeated a warning that services could be affected if Scotland’s local government workers are given a pay increase of more than three per cent.

Local government body COSLA has offered an increase of three per cent for all council workers earning up to £80,000, but trade unions have recommended its members reject this as they say it is below inflation and will not improve low pay.

SIC leader Steven Coutts said a pay offer above three per cent “would inevitably lead to a reduction in our ability to deliver essential services” due to a lack of government funding.

COSLA – a councillor-led, cross-party organisation which aims to provide a voice for local government in Scotland – claims paying more than an extra three per cent could also result in job losses.

“Through COSLA we have offered a pay increase in recognition of the value of all our staff,” Coutts said.

“There is no central government funding to pay for the increase across all our workforce and the vast majority of our staff will receive a three per cent pay increase.

“The offer that has been made during a period of significant local government funding reductions and additional demand on services.

“Any offer above that which has been made would inevitably lead to a reduction in our ability to deliver essential services.”

COSLA said that the total potential investment from a three per cent increase stands at £350 million.

“I ask the trade unions to take a realistic approach and accept our offer,” COSLA president councillor Allison Evan said.

“Let us work together for a fairer local government settlement from the Scottish Government.”

Johanna Baxter, head of local government bargaining at trade union UNISON, said: “UNISON’s campaigning has ended the local government pay cap. But the revised offer does little to address low pay. And it exacerbates a key concern of our members about fairness across the public sector.

“The Scottish Government has found an additional £25m for teachers pay, which will result in some teachers receiving pay increases of over 10 per cent, however this offer has no additional money to address low pay in local government.”

Unite regional organiser James O’Connell added that “our members are just as deserving as teachers – COSLA promised parity of treatment and need to deliver it”.