Cosla offers talks as Scottish council staff prepare to strike

Scottish councils body Cosla has offered to sit down with Unison, Unite and GMB leaders to thrash out a pay deal, as tens of thousands of staff prepare for a one-day strike tomorrow.

Cosla said it was “disappointed” by the strike but said it would arrange talks as soon as possible “to reach a settlement which takes account of the soaring cost of living which affects councils just as much as our workers”.

The unions estimate that 150,000 staff could strike tomorrow in protest at Cosla’s offer of 2.5% per year from 2008-11, at a time when retail price index inflation is running at 5%.

Alex McLuckie, GMB Scotland’s senior organiser for local government, said: “No one can be surprised that workers who are being offered 2.5% in today’s inflationary environment are taking strike action in order to make clear to their employer that they will not tolerate a pay cut.”

Unison regional organiser Dougie Black, secretary of the trade union negotiators, said councils had at least £100m in unallocated reserves and staff had helped deliver £170m in efficiency savings over the past year.

“It is time for members to share in the savings that they have made,” he added.

Cosla said councils had “attempted to protect the most vulnerable and at risk in their areas” from the impact of the action “and will do so tomorrow”.  The unions have said they would ensure “life and limb” cover were available to vulnerable people, by exempting some members from the action.

Unite regional officer Jimmy Farrelly said: “Unite believes that the public will be sympathetic to our members’ plight which is born out of a sense of anger and frustration.”

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