Unison Scotland has warned that further strike action is “inevitable” after employers body Cosla failed to increase its 2.5% pay offer for 2008-9.
As expected, Cosla offered to revise its previous three-year offer for 2008-11 by proposing a one-year deal, but it stood firm on the 2.5% figure, which it has described as one of the best offered to public sector staff this year.
But with retail price index inflation running at 5% – the value of the unions’ claim – Stephanie Herd, chair of Unison’s local government service group, said members would be “extremely angry” by the lack of movement and further action would be inevitable.
Talks resumed between employers and Unison, GMB and Unite after a strike on 20 August, which included an estimated 20,000 social care staff.
However, Cosla spokesperson Michael Cook said councils were facing the same pressures on their budgets as staff were in their living costs and said it was faced with a “stark choice” between increasing pay and cutting jobs or services.
He added: “There is a balance point where increasing the pay offer means real cuts to services and jobs on the ground – it is for this reason that the offer must remain at 2.5 %. We fully recognise that this will be disappointing for the unions but, taking this need for balance into account, it is an appropriate offer.”
Cook offered to join unions in talks with the Scottish government but seemed to rule out more funding from Holyrood to enable councils to increase the pay offer without hitting jobs or services.