UNIONS have agreed a further escalation of a bitter council pay dispute strikes hitting schools, nurseries and waste collection in 25 councils.

It comes as the public services union UNISON Scotland said there would be a new round of pay talks with Deputy First Minister John Swinney today (Thursday).

The union said that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) - which acts as an employers' association - was also expected to attend in a push for more money to councils for pay rises.

The union Unite has now said that it will join UNISON Scotland and GMB Scotland by serving notice of a strike hitting schools and early years services in seven council areas planned for next month. It has a mandate to strike in 14 local authority areas.

Unite has also expanded a current waste services strike from 14 councils to 19.

It means that 13 councils are due to be hit by education strikes and 25 are now to be hit with waste services stoppages, with the public services union UNISON Scotland and GMB Scotland due to start the first of two four-day stoppages on Friday.

Thousands of staff from all three unions will be taking part in the education staff strike scheduled for September 6, 7 and 8 in Glasgow and East Renfrewshire.

At least one union will now be conducting strikes hitting education in nine other council areas - Orkney Islands, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Inverclyde.

Unite’s members in schools and early years services include administrative staff, cleaners, caterers, and classroom assistants.

Unite members employed by Tayside Contracts who provide catering and janitorial services to schools across Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross councils will also strike.

It comes as unions say there has been no new offer after talks with deputy first minister John Swinney in a move to stop strikes that could shut schools and nurseries and further escalate bin collection stoppages from tomorrow.

Trade union leaders were at St Andrews House on Wednesday evening to call for significantly increased funding to allow pay talks to continue.

After a 2% pay increase was rejected, ministers gave councils an extra £140m to help them give staff a bigger pay rise.

Talks between unions and COSLA broke down on Tuesday over a 5% 'undifferentiated' pay offer.

Unions escalate strike hitting schools and waste services in 26 Scots councils as new John Swinney talks start

Unite has confirmed that its local government committee rejected outright the current 5% offer from COSLA.

On Wednesday, a waste collection strike called by the union Unite was escalated to 13 other councils after being started in Edinburgh and is due to end on August 30.

That stoppage is running at Aberdeen City, Angus, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.

Now Unite has confirmed that a further five councils will join this phase of strike action in waste services in Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, East Dunbartonshire, Fife and North Ayrshire.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members across local government are taking strike action because the politicians have failed them miserably. We now plan to spread this action across 20 councils in education and waste services.

"For five months COSLA and the Scottish Government have dithered and bickered with each other while our members have increasingly faced a cost of living crisis. We will fully support them in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Unite said the deal means that for more than half of local government workers would get between £900-£1,250. In comparison the UK Government is offering council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland a £1,925 flat rate pay offer.

Unite estimates that more than 2,000 members will be involved in the coordinated and targeted strike action involving education and waste services across Scotland.

Unite industrial officer Wendy Dunsmore added: “Unite will now deepen and spread our strike action across two thirds of the country. This is a direct response to the abject failure by both COSLA and the Scottish Government to fund a fair pay offer particularly for the lowest paid. It’s a disgrace that schools and early years services now face closure causing further disruption to families. The politicians need to get a grip of this situation which they have let happen due to their politicking and stalling. It’s time for the politicians to realise the gravity of this dispute and take responsibility before this situation dramatically escalates.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON head of local government, said of the Thursday talks: “We welcome that the Scottish Government and COSLA will both be in the same room with us. Council workers are fed up of being used as a political football as each party blames the other for lack of funding for a better pay deal for our members.

"The trade unions had constructive talks with Deputy First Minister, John Swinney last night (Wednesday) where we agreed that both the Scottish government and COSLA have a role to play in resolving this dispute.

Unions escalate strike hitting schools and waste services in 26 Scots councils as new John Swinney talks start

"However there has still been no significant break though and the key issues remains the same. The funding envelop on the table is not enough and we need to construct a pay deal which is fair to everyone.

"Council workers have been waiting eight months for these talks to start, and UNISON strikes, which start tomorrow, will go ahead as planned unless and until we have an acceptable offer we can put to our members. We will continue to do everything we can to reach that point.”

Waste and recycling services strike

Unite

August 24 to 31 (8 days action) - Aberdeen City, Angus, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian. September 6 to 13 September (8 days action) – Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Angus, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian.

UNISON

August 26 to 29 and September 7 to 10 - Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Stirling and South Lanarkshire.

GMB Scotland

August 26 to 29 and September 7 to 10 - Aberdeen City, Angus, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverclyde,Highland, Midlothian, Orkney, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Perth and Kinross North Lanarkshire