SCOTLAND'S public services union has served notice on nine councils that schools and early years staff will be on strike next month.

It comes as unions raised questions about a potential improved 5% pay offer while pledging a continuation of a wave of local authority staff action involving waste collectors.

The UNISON union has sent the council notices in a move that could lead to extensive school closures.

The councils affected are City of Glasgow, Orkney Islands, Aberdeenshire, East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Inverclyde.

The strikes are schedule for September 6, 7 and 8 after "lack of progress" in talks with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) - which acts as an employers' association - over council pay. UNISON said school and early years workers will join UNISON waste and recycling staff who will have already started their strike action on August 26, 27, 28 and 29 and on September 7, 8, 9 and 10.

UNISON said it had a mandate to call out 13,000 workers on strike.

"Staff will disrupt schools, early years centres, nurseries and waste and recycling centres across Scotland, in the largest strike among council workers since the Trade Union Act was introduced in 2016," it said.GMB Scotland also confirmed strike action for schools and early years services staff  in Glasgow City Council and East Renfrewshire Council planned for between September 6 and 8.  Workers involved in the walk out come from cleaning, janitorial, catering and pupil support services.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “We are in urgent negotiations with the employer to try and find a solution, but so far we have only had an offer of talks - we have not had a pay offer. "Until we can explain to UNISON members how a pay offer might impact on them, council workers have been left with no choice but to strike.

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“UNISON has been demanding pay talks for months and COSLA and the Scottish Government are still dragging their heels. Inflation is predicted to rise to more than 13%, and our members are struggling as fuel, food and household bills go through the roof.

“Until we have a decent pay offer that we can put to UNISON members our strike action will continue and thousands of school and early years workers will be talking action across nine councils in Scotland.”

On Monday the Scottish Government was urged to intervene and “prevent international embarrassment for Edinburgh and Scotland” as a first wave of strikes by council staff left litter bins overflowing in the capital.

Tories and the Liberal Democrats both demanded action, although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes the improved pay offer will be sufficient to end the “disruption” in Edinburgh.

The potential pay offer that was made on Friday had involved setting the minimum hourly rate to £10.50.  UNISON say there has been no formal offer yet and that talks are continuing.

The union Unite has previously criticised COSLA for taking over five months to make an offer than could be put to members.

The waste collection strike is due to be escalated to the other councils on August 24 and 31, unless there is a resolution to the dispute.

It is estimated that around 1,500 Unite members across 15 councils will join their colleagues in City of Edinburgh Cleansing and participate in the second wave of strike action. Unite will be the only union involved in this phase of council strike action.

Three unions, the GMB, Unite and UNISON say they have received a mandate for strike action in a local government pay dispute over a dispute over the initial 2% pay offer to Scottish council workers which could lead to the shutting of schools.

On August 15,  UNISON confirmed strike action after members rejected a 3.5% pay deal.

The Scottish government previously said it expected local authorities to match the £140m extra pledged by the Scottish government for pay rises.

Local government minister Shona Robison last week called the increased pay offer a "welcome step forward".

COSLA's proposed wage rise statement said that it was agreed to continue negotiations with unions  "with a remit to include the objectives of an offer that achieves the overall value of a 5% pay uplift and a minimum hourly rate of £10.50.

"To be clear [the]  remit extends to discussions about the configuration of any settlement within the overall cost envelope mandated by leaders.

"I confirm that we remain committed to continue discussions on these items within the scope of the pay negotiations more generally."

The first wave of industrial action by Edinburgh council workers over pay started on Thursday and is set to last 12 days.
GMB Scotland senior organiser for public services Keir Greenaway said: “These latest strike dates are a direct response by our members to the ongoing failure by political leaders to confront the biggest cost of living crisis in forty years.

“It is ridiculous that we are six months down the line since staff rejected the initial 2 per cent and unions are still trying to get an offer on the table that could help mitigate working poverty for tens of thousands of key workers in local government.

“Our members in schools and early years are among the lowest paid in our councils yet deliver vital services that support our kids’ education, help keep them fed, and their schools clean and safe – all too often they are forgotten workers of the Scottish education system.
“They deserved to be valued so much better, and they need to be too if they are able to survive the scourge of soaring inflation and energy bills in the weeks and months to come.”