A UNION has called for action by new council leaders to avert a summer strike involving binmen, schools and social care services.

Unite has said local authorities should take immediate action to improve pay or see strikes this summer.

The union confirmed that it is in the process of targeting selected groups of workers employed in all thirty-two Scottish authorities with a view to balloting its members in schools, home care and cleansing as early as June.

It comes after the public services union Unison confirmed an indicative ballot of council staff revealed an "incredible" 89.8% voted in favour of taking industrial action up to and including strike action over an "unacceptable" pay offer.

The Herald revealed any future strike is likely to be targeted to areas where there will have the "highest impact", and to ensure that any strike meets strict legal thresholds over turnout.

Trade unions representing 200,000 local government workers across Scotland have already written to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) - which acts as an employers' association - to say that councils have failed to come up with an acceptable pay offer for workers whose pay has been "held down for too many years".

A potentially embarrassing strike over last year's pay claim involving thousands of binmen, fleet maintenance, school cleaning, school janitorial, and recycling was due to take place between November 8 and 12, as Glasgow was hosting COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference.

Scotland's second city welcomed over 100 leaders including US president Joe Biden for the political stage of the UN summit at a time it was already blighted by rubbish, fly-tipping and reports of rats in the streets.

But on the eve of the conference and after more than 10 months of negotiations, money was found for an improved pay offer which was accepted.

READ MORE: Council workers target Scots schools for strike action in pay battle

Unite has accused COSLA leaders, who recently voted against making a further pay offer, of having "zero backbone" in standing up for local government workers and demanding more financial support from the Scottish Government.

HeraldScotland: Strike

 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members across local government in Scotland have had enough of year on year pay freezes and cuts, which is why we are getting battle-ready to deliver the pay rise they deserve.

“It’s a sorry indictment of both COSLA and the Scottish Government that our members are preparing to vote on strike action but from the Shetland Islands to the Borders, Unite’s members have their union’s full backing in their fight for decent pay.”

The issue is around a proposed 2% pay rise with a 20p rise in the minimum hourly wage at £9.98 - 8p more than the real Living Wage - while inflation was running at 7%. There was concern that the rise was inequitably benefitting higher-paid workers while the 50% who earn less than £25,000-a-year were losing out.

The unions have said that those earning over £40,000 a year - 12% of the local government workforce - would get an increase of more than £800 a year, while some will get as much as £2000 more. Meanwhile, those who earn below £25,000 would get a pay increase of just about £500.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer said: “The first thing in the in-tray for the new council leaders is Unite’s warning that unless there is a change of attitude then we will ballot thousands of our members on industrial action.

“We know COSLA leaders voted against making any further pay offer and they are treating our members with utter contempt. COSLA has proven themselves to possess zero backbone when it comes to standing up against the Scottish Government and demanding that services and workers get the support they deserve.”

Unite say that in a consultative ballot indicative vote, a "massive" 91% confirmed they would be prepared to take industrial action in response to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) failure to put forward a fair and decent offer.