Nicola Sturgeon on the collision course with teachers and binmen over pay

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of refusing to act to avert strikes by thousands of Scottish school staff and binmen, despite agreeing to help fund a one-off pay deal for train drivers on payrolls higher salaries.



Nicola Sturgeon - Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images


© Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon – Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), representing Scotland’s 32 councils, and the Unison union have blasted the Prime Minister and her finance secretary’s refusal to join their deadlocked pay talks.

Speaking the day after nationalized ScotRail train drivers received a 5 per cent pay rise, Cosla said council staff pay ‘expectations’ had rightly been ‘influenced by government decisions Scottish regarding other parts of the public sector”.

Gail Macgregor, Cosla’s resources spokeswoman, said Ms Sturgeon’s refusal to engage in discussions about increasing council budgets “limits the options we have to successfully conclude salary negotiations”.

Johanna Baxter, leader of Unison’s local government in Scotland, said the Prime Minister’s refusal to intervene was a ‘kick in the teeth’ and came ‘on the back of the Scottish government announcing cuts to services audiences that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of”. .



Waste of Scotland - Stuart Nicol


© Provided by The Telegraph
Waste of Scotland – Stuart Nicol

The union has started voting with 25,000 school staff, child care workers and garbage and recycling staff on a possible strike, with the warning that schools and nurseries will be closed and garbage cans will not be collected.

Unison, Scotland’s biggest local government union, is recommending workers back a walkout after being offered a ‘stingy’ 2% pay rise.

The prospect of mass pay strikes in the public sector has intensified after the general secretary of Scotland’s largest teachers’ union also warned that its members were ready to step down in the autumn unless they don’t get a better pay deal.

Larry Flanagan, the general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, told its annual general meeting in Dundee that he would be “on the picket lines” unless more money was put on the table.

The teachers rejected an offer from Cosla of a 2.2% raise and want 10%. However, councils have complained that the Scottish government is cutting its budget by 7% in real terms over the next few years.



Kate Forbes, SNP finance secretary - Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via Reuters


© Provided by The Telegraph
Kate Forbes, SNP finance secretary – Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via Reuters

Pressure on Ms Sturgeon intensified the day after ScotRail drivers won a 5 per cent raise, with government agency Transport Scotland agreeing to fund 2.2 per cent of the increase to reflect the cost crisis of life.

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The offer will take the base salary of a fully qualified driver to £55,264, well above the average earned by council staff. This followed a dispute in which drivers refusing to work overtime forced ScotRail to cancel a third of its services.

In addition, Aslef, the train drivers’ union, said it had secured better pay for drivers working on rest days and an improved bonus scheme worth at least an extra £2,340 a year .

However, any widespread increase in public sector wages would weigh heavily on Scottish government finances, with around 30,000 jobs to be cut to help fill a £3.5billion black hole.

As the Unison ballot continues until July 26, Cosla has called on Ms Sturgeon and Kate Forbes, the SNP finance secretary, to intervene.

“We will be ready for the strike in the fall”

Ms Macgregor said: “Any increase in our base funding does not harm these services and limit the options we have to successfully conclude salary negotiations. The refusal to engage in discussion will only continue and our communities will see and feel the difference.

Ms Baxter said: ‘The fact that they are not sitting down with Cosla and the unions to try to find a solution is a kick in the teeth for all local government workers.

“They have already forgotten who was raising our children, cleaning up our communities, caring for our vulnerable and burying our dead throughout the pandemic.”

Mr Flanagan added: ‘Cosla and the Scottish Government have been warned that in the autumn we will be ready to strike if necessary.’

The Scottish government said it was ‘not involved in local government wage negotiations’ for council workers, who it said were ‘Cosla’s business and are determined by committee negotiations mixed Scottish”.

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