Unions call for pay deal to address rising inflation and energy prices

Unite, Unison and GMB have submitted a joint pay claim to local authority body Cosla.

Craig Paton
Tuesday 18 January 2022 17:58
Among the proposals are an increase of £3,000 across salary points and a £12 minimum wage (Jane Barlow/PA)
Among the proposals are an increase of £3,000 across salary points and a £12 minimum wage (Jane Barlow/PA)

Three trade unions have called for a pay deal for local government staff that helps tackle the rising cost of energy prices and inflation.

Unite Unison and GMB have submitted a joint pay claim to local authority body Cosla that, among other requests, pushes for a £3,000 pay rise across all salary points and a minimum wage of at least £12 per hour.

The proposals also called for a no-detriment shift to a 35-hour work week, the payment of all professional fees as a result of their employment, agreed guidance on home or hybrid working and the uprating of all allowances in line with inflation figures from October.

The groups went on to urge the Scottish Government to provide “fair funding for local government to protect jobs and services”.

Wendy Dunsmore, the regional officer in Scotland for Unite, said: “Inflation is at a 10-year high and the cost of living is surging.

“Unless Cosla and the Scottish Government are prepared to meet our wage claim, the stark reality for more than 200,000 local government workers is a significant real terms pay cut.

“Let’s remember that the majority of these workers are low paid, and female.

“The central issue is about how we value local government and those who work within it.”

She added: “We should be rewarding this incredible professionalism instead of a yearly battle to get these workers the pay rise they deserve.”

Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland’s head of local government, urged Cosla and the Scottish Government to ensure there is no risk of industrial action in this year’s pay round.

Industrial action was only narrowly averted in the last pay round. This years negotiations need to progress at pace to ensure we don't end up in the same position again this year

Johanna Baxter

“After years of declining pay and cuts to local government budgets it is time for Cosla and the Scottish Government to get round the table to ensure sufficient funding is available to give our dedicated local government workers the fair and decent pay rise they deserve,” she said.

“With 55% of local government workers earning below £25,000 per annum, low pay remains a significant issue and this year’s settlement must not only protect workers from steep increases to everyday costs, like energy and gas, but also prevent pay from falling back further and should start to reverse the many years of real-terms cuts to wages.

“Industrial action was only narrowly averted in the last pay round. This year’s negotiations need to progress at pace to ensure we don’t end up in the same position again this year.”

GMB senior organiser Keir Greenaway added: “Significant real terms pay cuts for key workers like home carers, bin collectors, and school support staff – workers our political leaders used to applaud – is a shameful prospect.

“There is no quick fix, but we must confront the cost-of-living crisis by addressing the crisis of wages for the lowest-paid in local government a priority.”

A Cosla spokesman acknowledged receipt of the unions’ pay claim and said: “We will work through the process with our trade union colleagues in the usual manner, recognising the significant constraints presented by the local government finance settlement for 2022-23 from Scottish Government.”

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