GMB union members overwhelmingly reject ‘derisory’ pay offer to council workers

More than nine in 10 members of the GMB Scotland union have rejected a “derisory” pay offer for council workers, increasing the prospect of strikes.

An offer on the table from the Scottish Government would see workers earning less than £25,000 get an £800 rise, while those earning £25,000 to £40,000 would get a 2% increase.

Those making more than this would be awarded 1%.

But the GMB Scotland union said 93% of its members had rejected the offer, “increasing the prospect of significant industrial action across local services this summer”.

GMB, which represents 20,000 local government workers, predominantly in services such as home care, refuse, school support, and roads and maintenance, is calling for a “significantly improved offer”.

It comes after union bosses called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to urgently intervene over the controversial pay proposal.

Pat Rafferty, the Scottish secretary of the Unite trade union, said the offer that has been made so far is “more like a slap in the face rather than a clap for local government workers”.

He contrasted the offer made to council workers with that made to health staff, with the Scottish Government having offered many NHS employees a 4% rise on top of the £500 thank-you payment they received for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unite is recommending its members reject the offer.

More than half (55%) of local government workers earn less than £25,000 a year, Unite said, with around three-quarters (75%) on less than the UK national average wage of £32,875.

GMB Scotland’s senior organiser for public services Drew Duffy said: “This is a clear demonstration from key workers across Scottish local government that Kate Forbes’s valuation of their efforts isn’t anywhere near good enough.

“It’s been a wretched year and a desperate decade for council workers, especially the lowest paid and the services they deliver.

“Home carers, refuse workers, and school support staff have got on with the job for all of us despite being failed on PPE, testing and safe working guidelines.

“Furthermore, they did this after years of political austerity, which cut their pay in real-terms and gutted their services.

“After the applause and all the political platitudes, to recognise their dedication and sacrifice with an increase that won’t amount to much more than £10 a week for many staff is derisory, and the message to ministers, politicians on the election trail, and councils is clear: ‘We’re worth more.’”

A spokesman for the local government body Cosla said on Wednesday: “We have made an offer to our trade union colleagues. This offer remains on the table whilst we continue with on-going constructive negotiations.”

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