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Council cleansing workers to vote on strike action

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

GMB Scotland is to ballot cleansing workers on strike action after rejecting Cosla’s pay offer to council workers.

Members in social care are already voting on industrial action with the first strike potentially taking place on 3 July, the day before the general election.

Workers in waste services, including cleansing and refuse collection, will also now be asked to support industrial action as GMB Scotland, one of the biggest unions in the public sector, warns of looming strikes across Scotland’s local authorities.

The union’s local government committee last week flatly rejected an offer from Cosla, representing council leaders, claiming it did not come close to being acceptable.

Cleansing strikes two years ago led to mountains of rubbish on the streets of Edinburgh and Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser in public services, urged council leaders and ministers to act with urgency to avert similar scenes.

The ballot opens on 5 June and will end on 1 July meaning walkouts and other industrial action could begin two weeks later.

Greenaway said: “Our members have already been forced to wait far too long for an offer that was not close to being good enough.

“It is deeply frustrating council workers are once again being driven to industrial action to secure a fair offer and the blame for that lies squarely with council leaders and ministers.

“Why has so much time been wasted? Why are council leaders not already in serious discussions with unions and the Scottish Government about how to fund a fair offer?

“Why on earth should our members in Scotland be asked to accept an offer that is less than that being offered to council colleagues in England?”.

The union’s 20,000 members in Scots councils have already voted overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot to back industrial action if there was no credible offer and a formal ballot of care workers is already underway.

The results of that vote are expected on 19 June meaning the first possible day of strike action is 3 July, the eve of the general election.

Greenaway said: “This election like all the other is all about promises but council workers have been given too many already.

“They were promised a minimum wage of £15 an hour by 2026, for example, but this pay offer calls that into serious question. They don’t want any more empty promises. They want fair pay.”