COUNCIL services could grind to a halt again if plans to step up industrial action are given the go ahead today.
Members of the public services union Unison will discuss staging an “aggressively extended” series of strikes, following this week’s breakdown in pay negotiations for public sector workers.
The new and potentially fierce bout of industrial action follows on from last month’s 24-hour council strike.
Ferry services came to a halt and the majority of schools closed their doors as an estimated 1,200 workers walked out on August 20th in protest over a below-inflation annual wage increase of 2.5 per cent for three years.
Hopes were raised on the strike day that talks with Cosla leaders could help thrash out a deal. But on Monday it transpired the only concession available to union leaders was the same 2.5 per cent offer, but for one year instead of three.
Unison representative Brian Smith said strike action would inevitably be stepped up if Cosla failed to offer a fresh round of talks.
“I’m extremely disappointed and rather surprised by the employers, given they were making the right noises on the strike day,” he said.
“There will be a proposal at a Unison meeting on Friday that there should be an aggressively extended series of strikes involving everybody. That could be for two days and then three days.
“I don’t know if that would be accepted, but that is the proposal from the Glasgow branch of Unison. The proposal is certainly a step up in the action.”
Mr Smith said he believed most unionised workers would have the stomach for extended strike action, which would clearly see a corresponding drop in their wages.
“Everybody has to take that into consideration, but my experience from the past is that people realise if that is what needs to be done, that is what will happen.
“The employers had the chance to say something sensible, but all they’ve said is ‘we’ll give you the same offer again’ which was rejected with derision.”
Members of the GMB union have also been left disappointed by the news the talks have come to nothing.
Senior organiser for public services Alex McLuckie said: “We started these negotiations with the management saying they wished to resolve matters and we ended up two days later with the employers’ side saying they did not have a mandate to negotiate.
“GMB Scotland believes this is a slap in the face to council workers who believed the employers were genuine when they said they wished to resolve this matter.
This now means the union will have no alternative, but to recommence industrial action if we want to improve the below inflation offer.”
MSP Tavish Scott called for negotiations to be opened up as soon as possible.
He said: “How serious does the situation need to get before ministers recognise that pay policy is their responsibility?
“Ministers must sort this out by getting around the negotiating table immediately.”