One-day strike hits Scottish councils

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Council services across Scotland were disrupted yesterday by a strike of local government workers that attracted "massive" support, according to the union involved.

Council services across Scotland were disrupted yesterday by a strike of local government workers that attracted "massive" support, according to the union involved.

Unison said 70,000 of its 80,000 members north of the border took part, bringing to a standstill services ranging from rubbish collection to the care of schools.

Cleaners at the Scottish Parliament, who work under a contract operated by Edinburgh City Council, also took part in the action, which followed the union's rejection of a 2.5 per cent pay rise.

The union also said it hadreceived thousands of applications to join since the result of the strike ballot was announced this month. Matt Smith, Unison Scottish secretary, said: "The effect of this one day on Scotland's services is a warning that our members who provide those services are angry and frustrated."

Mr Smith said the union's members were aware councils were under pressure but the strikers also knew 3.5 million public sector workers across Britain, including local government workers in England and Wales, had had rises of between 3 per cent and 4 per cent. "Scotland's councils should move their workers off the foot of the public pay league," he added. The union said its workers provided emergency cover - despite what it called provocation in some areas - to protect the vulnerable and public safety.

Jane Carolan, leader of the union negotiators, said: "We ensured that weddings and funerals scheduled for today went ahead."

Among the indications of support was an episode at a picket line at a council in the west of Scotland, where a senior local government official, not involved in the strike, donated a day's pay to the hardship fund, said Unison.

After yesterday's stoppage two-day and three-day strikes are planned but no dates have been set. Union leaders willdecide the next step at a meeting on Friday.

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