Unions have ‘unprecedented’ mandate for schools strike, MSPs told

Unison’s head of local government said the strikes reflected ‘concern and anger’ in the workforce.

Unions have ‘unprecedented’ mandate for schools strike, MSPs told

There is an “absolutely unprecedented” mandate for strikes by Scottish school workers due to take place next week, MSPs have heard.

In a dispute over pay, school support staff are due to walk out over three days starting on Tuesday next week.

Action will be taken by cleaners, caterers, janitors and school support assistants.

Trade union representatives spoke to Holyrood’s Local Government Committee on Tuesday as it discussed workforce planning issues.

Johanna Baxter, Unison’s head of local government, said the upcoming strike was the result of years of underfunding in the sector.

“I think it’s untenable really for the overall pay bill to remain frozen.”

She added: “The ballot result that we saw – we have a strike mandate covering over 21,000 members across 24 local authority areas and almost 2,000 schools – is absolutely unprecedented and I think demonstrated that feeling of concern and anger amongst the local government workforce.”

As well as Unison, workers represented by the GMB and Unite trade unions will be taking part in the industrial action next week.

Sean Baillie, an organiser at GMB Scotland, told the committee: “This year’s pay award still fails to match the offer that was given to workers in England and Wales councils to the tune of at least £500.”

He called on councils to match this pay award for the current financial year

Trade unions have rejected the latest pay offer from Cosla, saying it would lead to a “measly” increase of 38p per week for the lowest paid.

The local government body has said the offer would mean the lowest-paid workers would see a 21% increase in their pay over a two-year period.

It said the pay offer currently on the table will cost councils just under half a billion pounds and that council leaders had gone to the “absolute limits of what local government can afford”.

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