Union leaders have started to ballot council workers to see if they would be prepared to take industrial action over a pay offer they branded “simply not good enough”.
The trade union Unison has already recommended its members vote against the current pay offer, and in favour of action up to and including possible strikes.
It comes after a pay deal offered all council workers earning less than £25,000 an £800 rise, while those earning £25,000 to £40,000 would get a 2% increase, with those making more than this awarded 1%.
However, bosses at Unison insisted the offer “does not address the issue of endemic low pay” for some council staff.
The pay offer to council workers is below the 4% offered to many NHS staff by the Scottish Government.
And speaking as a consultative ballot began, Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland’s head of local government, said more than half of all council workers earn less than £25,000 a year – with more than 100,000 on a salary that is “significantly below the average wage of £32,000 per year”.
Ms Baxter stated: “The current offer does not address the issue of endemic low pay for these workers.
“Without these workers going above and beyond to keep services running over the past year, their colleagues in the NHS would have been left without childcare, our mortuaries would have been overwhelmed, our children would have been left without an education and our elderly would have been left without care.
“Yet, to date, they have received no reward or recognition of their efforts at all. It’s simply not good enough.”
Mark Ferguson, Chair of Unison Scotland’s local government committee, said: “Local government and its workforce are no longer the poor relation of the public services – we have become the distant relative which is never discussed and has long been forgotten.
“The current offer was simply lifted from the Scottish Government’s announced public sector pay policy – a pay policy that the Scottish Government has itself breached in offering higher pay rises to other public sector workers. Our members deserve better.”
A spokesman for the local government body, Cosla, said: “We have made an offer to our trade union colleagues. This offer remains on the table whilst we continue with on-going constructive negotiations.”