Local authority social workers in Scotland could strike over 1% pay offer

Employers say a larger pay rise would lead to hundreds of job losses.

Credit: Action Press/Rex Features

Social workers across Scotland are to be balloted on strike action after Unison Scotland and Unite rejected a 1% pay rise from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

Unison Scotland decided to ballot its 75,000 local government members on whether to take strike action after talks between the union and Cosla collapsed.

“We tried to get the employers back round the table for talks after members voted to reject the offer, but the employers refused,” said Dougie Black, Unison’s lead negotiator in local government.

Stephanie Herd, chair of Unison’s local government committee, added: “Members are angry about a miserly 1% offer, following two years of a pay freeze. The year before that they only received 0.65%. Over this period the value of their pay has gone down by nearly 13%, while the cost of food and heating has soared.”

“Our members deserve fair pay and we believe they will vote yes for strike action to put pressure on the employers to improve the offer.”

Councillor Billy Hendry, spokesman for strategic human resources management at Cosla, said the 1% rise was in line with other offers to public sector workers throughout the UK.

“Our door is always open to the trade unions for discussions on any relevant subject but it is time now for the trade unions to take a reality check in the best interests of their members and to accept this final offer,” he said.

“By our calculations, to increase our pay offer by even 0.25% would result in over 700 job losses in councils across Scotland. As such, it is regrettable that at a time when councils are doing their very best to maintain job security for staff, the unions are recommending rejection of a very fair pay offer in the current economic climate.”

The ballot will start on 3 July and conclude on 13 August. Unison Scotland has 160,000 members in the public sector in Scotland, including more than 25,000 social care employees.

The trade union Unite is also balloting its members on strike action over Cosla’s pay offer.

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