UNION leaders have earned that "waste will pile up" during the Edinburgh Festival as strikes over pay start tomorrow.

Eleven days of strike action affecting waste and recycling services will hit the capital from Thursday morning - as the dispute over local authority pay escalates.

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon said that council leaders should make a 5% pay offer to staff to avert forthcoming council workers strikes that could hit schools.

Unions last week announced a slate of strike action by waste and recycling workers in authorities across the country, subsequently rejecting a new 3.5% pay offer that was described as “derisory”.

Cosla resources spokeswoman Katie Hagmann said leaders would like to make a better offer, but feared the extra spending could hurt local services, calling on the Scottish Government to provide more funding.

But ministers paid out £140 million to local authorities last week, which they say they expect to be matched by councils to provide a good offer.

Unless a deal can be struck, staff will walk out between August 26 and 29 and September 7 and 10.

Cleansing staff at Edinburgh City Council who are members of the GMB union also announced their intention to strike during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe between Thursday and August 30.

GMB members in the service taking part in the action alongside colleagues from the Unite trade union say waste will pile up in the city’s streets and properties unless a significantly improved pay offer is tabled for local government staff.


The warning comes on the same day that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation measure rose to 10.1 per cent, just days after COSLA chiefs offered staff a “a quantum equivalent of a 3.5 per cent increase” which was roundly rejected.

Strikes start at 5.59am on Thursday and will run until 5am on August 30.

GMB Scotland 0rganiser Kirsten Muat warned: “Waste will pile up for the remainder of the Festival and when people ask why we will tell them: GMB members are not prepared to accept working poverty in our local services as an inevitability even if our political leaders are.

“These strikes are a direct response to the failures of COSLA and the Scottish Government over the last six months to recognise the impact of this cost-of-living crisis on our members and to bring forward a pay offer worthy of their consultation.

“The 3.5 per cent tabled last week - a miserly lift on the previously rejected 2 per cent - is a pathetic response while our members struggle against double-digit inflation and energy bills rising to over £4,000 this winter.

“Tomorrow’s strike is locked-in but if political leaders want to curtail its impact and avoid the prospect of more strikes across more councils in the weeks to come, then they must urgently make a significantly improved pay offer.”

The First Minister responded: “Just last week, the Scottish Government gave £140 million additional funding to local government to help try to resolve pay claims.

“Therefore it’s really disappointing, in my view, that local authorities haven’t yet offered a decent 5% pay increase there.

“So I would call on local councils, we’ve put money on the table, to do your bit now so that we can resolve the issues.”

Scotland will also be hit by disruption on the railways on Thursday, with strike action by the RMT union's Network Rail members elsewhere impacting on the signalling provisions north of the border.

As such, only a few services will be available, mostly in the central belt.

When asked about the disruption, the First Minister suggested that the UK Government should “get back to their desks”.

“This is another example of the UK Government being missing in action,” she said.

“This is a UK-wide Network Rail and other English train operating companies dispute – it’s not a ScotRail dispute – and yet Scotland is going to be impacted by it.

“So my message to the UK Government on this, as well as on the cost of living crisis, is for goodness sake get back to your desks and start doing the job that you’re there to do.

“Take the action to resolve this dispute so that people in Scotland and people elsewhere in the UK don’t have to suffer this disruption.”