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Council / Unions ballot on strike action by council frontline staff 

CLEANSING and waste staff working for the council in Shetland are among thousands across Scotland set to be balloted on possible strike action.

Unite has served industrial action notices to 29 councils in an escalating pay dispute, with the only local authorities not involved being Orkney, Clackmannanshire and East Lothian.

The trade union confirmed that it will ballot thousands of its members in cleansing and waste services from 5 June until 1 July when the ballots close.

If the ballots for industrial action are successful, Unite said strike action could begin from July.

It comes after the UNISON union said last week that more than 43,000 council workers in waste and recycling, schools and social care are also to be balloted for strike action.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members undertake vital frontline jobs. Despite the essential work they do, they have seen their pay eroded for years, they are simply no longer prepared to tolerate this situation.

“COSLA and the Scottish government have been warned that they must do far more to meet the pay aspirations of our members. The blame for any strike action taking place will lie at their doors.”

Last Friday (24 May), Unite confirmed that its local government representatives had rejected outright a formal pay offer from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA).

It said the offer included a 2.2 per cent effective pay rise from 1 April to 30 September, and then two per cent for a 12-month period effective from 1 October 2024 to 30 September 2025.

Unite rejected the offer, and the proposal to change the pay anniversary date from April to October.

A COSLA spokesperson said: “COSLA wrote to the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) Trade Unions on Thursday 23 May with a formal pay offer for the SJC Local Government workforce.

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“This offer is for a settlement which runs for an 18-month period of 1 April 2024 to 30 September 2025. There would be a 2.2% uplift from 1 April, with a further 2% uplift taking effect from 1 October. We believe that this is a good offer in the context of inflation and the funding constraints faced by councils.

“We are disappointed that industrial action is being contemplated by our unions and concerned that it appears to be targeted at the most vulnerable service users.

“We remain committed to doing the best by our workforce who deliver essential local services in every community across Scotland and understand our trade unions seeking the best deal possible, but this year’s settlement from Scottish Government means that going any further will mean job losses and service cuts.”

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