THE COUNCIL pay row is to escalate with the closure of schools and nurseries across Scotland after the Deputy First Minister insisted there is "no more money" to fund pay rises that could end the dispute.

The waste staff strikes entered their final day yesterday (Wednesday) in 13 council areas after talks between John Swinney and union leaders failed to make any breakthrough on Tuesday afternoon over an improved 5% pay deal.

No scheduled meetings were were in place with unions yesterday to try and end the impasse - after a series of discussions with John Swinney and the local government group COSLA after some two weeks of strikes by council bin workers.

It has been confirmed that the spectre of schools and nurseries shutting from Tuesday is now likely as industrial action spreads to thousands of education staff in 12 council areas.

It comes as a new proposal to pay everyone a flat rate based on the over £400m needed to pay Scotland's 250,000 local authority workers a 5% pay rise has been described as "unfair".

Some union leaders say it translated to just over £1400 for each worker - but that means thousands of local government workers will not get the promised 5%.

And it is over £500 short of the £1925 pay rise for 2022-23 that has been offered to local authority staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even that offer, which would see the lowest paid get 10%, has been rejected by some union leaders.

The dispute has seen waste workers belonging to the public services union UNISON Scotland, GMB Scotland and Unite on strike in 25 of Scotland's 32 local authorities.

A new wave of waste services staff stoppages is is also due to start on Tuesday, with an eight-day strike involving Unite union staff hitting 19 local authorities.

Waste workers who are members of UNISON Scotland and GMB Scotland will begin a four-day stoppage the following day hitting a further six council areas.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland's head of local government said: "What we are doing is cirling around to cut a pie that just is not big enough.

HeraldScotland:

"No matter how much we try to cut it in as fair away as possible. There is just not enough money on the table.

"Unless a resolution can be found 13,000 Unison members will be walking out in schools and nurseries next week.

"People forget this. So far the narrative has been about bin strikes, it is not.

"It is not simply a waste workers strike, it is a local government dispute the likes of which we haven't seen in more than a decade.

"Schools will have to close because there are more school support staff than there are teachers. And teachers won't be doing the jobs of our members.

"If you take out cleaners, janitors. the educational support assistants, the administrators and the clerks then the whole thing shuts down.

"Additional money will have to be found one way or another."

The Scottish Government says the local government body COSLA’s latest offer would see all council workers receive at least £1,925.

Mr Swinney said the latest offer would see the Scottish Government provide a further one-off £200m over two years – on top of a recurring £140 million previously announced which allowed an uplift of pay rises from an original 2% to 5%.

But the new pay offer means that only those earning over £39,000 would get at least £1,925 with their 5% rise.

Unions say the £200m allows a top up of those local authority workers earning below around £39,000 to get £1,925 - but that it is only a one-off - which means it is not consolidated for further years.

UNISON Scotland say that to give everyone the £1,925 consolidated as a flat rate as offered to local authority staff in the rest of the UK would cost £100m more than is in the £400m pot to pay the 5%. Some £140m of that pot is coming from the Scottish Government and the rest from the local authorities employers.

HeraldScotland:

Ms Baxter said: "There has been huge speculation about why it is that we don't convert the money on the table to a flat rate for everyone and that would solve the problem.

"It sounds attractive, it sounds fair but it isn't and it wouldn't work. It doesn't work because that translates to £1408 and that means that huge a chunk of members end up getting less than the 5% that the Scottish Government has already promised them. "What we are not prepared to do in UNISON is take money away from people who have already been promised 5%. It is not a solution."

She added: "The difficulty is that when the Scottish Government have said that [there is no money] in the past, more money has been found.

"A week ago, the Scottish Government said they had no locus in these discussions at all. We now have a very welcome £200m pounds contribution from the Scottish Government. So that is welcome, but it's not baseline and what that means is that members won't see that in terms of a real terms increase in the value of their pay forevermore."

Hundreds of schools and nurseries are now set to be closed when as part of the dispute, some 12 councils will be hit by an schools and early learning staff stoppage between September 6 and 9.

Thousands of staff from all three unions that are in dispute will be taking part in the stoppage in Glasgow and East Renfrewshire.

At least one union will be orchestrating strikes by education workers in ten other council areas - Orkney, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Inverclyde.

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

The first bin strike began in the capital city on August 18 in the midst of festival season, after the unions - the GMB, Unite and Unison - rejected an initial pay offer equivalent to a 3.5% increase.

Mr Swinney said: It is disappointing that trades unions have either rejected or are recommending to their members that the latest pay offer is rejected.

HeraldScotland:

"We are fully committed to doing all we can to support those on the lowest incomes.

“We have had to make difficult decisions and dig deep to provide extra funding. We are now at the absolute limit of what public finances can afford.

“I urge all parties to continue negotiations and explore all available resources available in order to reach a fair and sustainable settlement as soon as possible.”

Unions have previously warned that bin strikes could run till November in the wake of the failure of the latest pay talks.

Edinburgh has been warned that a decontamination process is not expected to resolve the "risk to human health" warning over the capital's rubbish-strewn streets before a new wave of strikes starts next Tuesday.

 

Schools and Early Years strike

Unite

September 6-8 (3 days) - East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire. 
September 7-9 (3 days) - Angus, Dundee, Tayside Contracts (affecting Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross councils)

UNISON Scotland
September 6-8 (3 days) -  Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Orkney, North Lanarkshire, Stirling and South Lanarkshire.

GMB Scotland

September 6-8 (3 days) - Glasgow and East Renfrewshire.

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Waste and recycling services strike

Unite

August 18-30:  City of Edinburgh

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.