The Scottish government has committed an extra £140m to support improved pay for council workers amid renewed threats of strike action.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the announcement yesterday (Friday) following pay talks with Cosla, the local government representative body.
Without the ability to borrow or change tax policy, Mr Swinney said the additional funding would have a “significant and ongoing” impact on the government’s budget.
“Finding a solution must be a collaborative endeavour and local authorities now need to do the same,” he said.
“This additional funding demonstrates our commitment to local government and their staff and will allow local authorities to make a significantly enhanced pay offer.”
Prior to the announcement unions Unison, Unite and GMB, had criticised the failure to agree a pay rise – months after a two per cent offer had been rejected.
Unison Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said the Scottish government had “ducked responsibility on this”.
“They do not seem to have grasped the gravity of this situation.
“Unison members will rightly be furious that they are being forced into a position of having to take industrial action for anyone to take notice of them.”
Ms Baxter said it was “simply unacceptable” that Cosla and the government were still “scrabbling about for further information” after all this time.
“Inflation is projected to be as high as 13 per cent and local government staff still only have 2 per cent on the table – the cost of living crisis is hitting people now.
“They have had months to sort this out.
“As I have said many times that the last thing Unison members want is a strike, but we seem to be on a collision course to closing schools, nurseries and waste and recycling services across the country and issuing notices of action in a matter of days.
“The responsibility for that lies squarely with Cosla and the Scottish government.”
GMB Scotland senior organiser Keir Greenaway said the ongoing inaction would “only increase the anger and fear among our members”.
Mr Greenaway said the cost-of-living crisis was “spiralling out of control” with members suffering debt, fuel poverty, and hunger.
He said the crisis would only worsen with further rises to inflation and energy bills.
“This is also exposing a huge gulf between our political leaders and frontline workers,” he added.
“It is shameful that swathes of our public services are delivered by people in working poverty and it’s disturbing that our political leaders won’t confront it.
“This crisis will turn into a catastrophe for tens of thousands of key workers, and more councils will face more strikes, unless a significantly improved pay offer is tabled.”
Cosla said leaders still needed further information before making a revised pay offer.
“Given the importance of a pay award for our workforce, council leaders wanted to seek further clarification from both the Scottish government and the UK government and will reconvene in the next seven days to further consider this matter,” it said.