Council / Local union leader calls on CoSLA to come to the table to avoid mass closures of schools

Some schools could be closed for up to three days later this months.

THE SECRETARY of the local branch of public sector union Unison has described the latest offer from local authority umbrella body CoSLA as “embarrassing” and “insulting to our members”.

Susanne Gens said the revised offer by CoSLA, made earlier this week to avert strike action by non-teaching staff of schools across Scotland, was full of misinformation and did not represent a “significant increase” of what had been on the table previously.

Catering, cleaning, support and administration staff are set to strike in 24 council areas during three days from 26 to 28 September.

The union estimates that 26 of Shetland’s 28 schools will be affected although it is not yet known how many will have to close.

Gens said the claim that CoSLA’s latest offer would have given council staff in Scotland at least a £1,929 increase in annual salary was not accurate.


She said for staff on the lowest pay the “in year uplift of the original offer was for approx. £1,325. The new offer is for approx. £1,419.”

“This increase falls well short of the £1,929 mentioned by CoSLA as well as the amount required to offset inflation.”

She added that compared to the original offer in April, the additional money put forward would have increased the hourly wages for cleaners by 11 pence and those of clerical staff by one penny. Learning support staff wouldn’t have seen any increase.

“This is not a significant increase as it is portrait by CoSLA and Unison’s local government committee decided unanimously that it was not worth to waste members time to consider it,” Gens told Shetland News.

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“As always Unison is willing to meet with CoSLA to come to a solution. This is something CoSLA has refused to do, so the ball is firmly in their court if they want to avoid mass school closures.

“Our members are very aware of the disruption this can have on the kids’ education, however they have been left with no other choice than to take action from Baltasound to Dunrossness and from Walls to Whalsay, if they want to remain in the jobs they love.”

CoSLA’s resources spokesperson councillor Katie Hagman said she was doubly disappointed.

“Firstly with the rejection itself, but perhaps more importantly, with the fact that they did not take the revised offer to their membership for consideration,” she said.

“It must be remembered that we are talking about a pay package worth over £440 million, specifically targeted at the lower end of our workforce.

“A pay package which not only compares well to other sectors but recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and which would mean the lowest paid would see a 21 per cent increase in their pay over a two-year period.”

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