Non-teaching staff in Fife schools could strike unless pay deal agreed

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Non-teaching staff in Fife schools, who are members of Unison, have voted to strike over pay.

It means workers, including cleaners, janitors and support workers represented by the union, will walk out in the autumn if a pay deal cannot be reached.

It is the largest ever vote for strike action by school staff in Scotland and could mean mass closures across the country, the union said.

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The union balloted school staff working for every council in Scotland over the 5 per cent pay offer from employer body Cosla. Workers were due a pay rise in April and have also been offered an additional increase dependent on salary from January 2024 for all local government workers.

The result of the Unison ballot was announced today. Pic: ContributedThe result of the Unison ballot was announced today. Pic: Contributed
The result of the Unison ballot was announced today. Pic: Contributed

While there was an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action in every council, trade union laws require a 50 per cent turnout.

In Fife, 58 per cent of members voted, with 90 per cent in favour of strike action.

The other councils where strikes are threatened are Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, City of Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Moray, North Ayrshire, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire.

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Nearly 2000 Unison members across Scotland will walk out in 24 council areas in a bid to secure a better pay deal for all local government workers.

The union’s members rejected the councils’ offer of 5.5 per cent in April branding it unacceptable when inflation has surged inflicting a cost-of-living crisis. The employers’ organisation Cosla said the “strong” pay offer represented a seven per cent rise on average, with the lowest paid council workers receiving a more than nine per cent increase.

Lilian Macer, Unison Scottish secretary, said: “This is Unison’s strongest ever strike mandate in local government, which shows the level of anger felt by staff. The union will do everything possible to get back around the table with Cosla to resolve this dispute. School staff would prefer to be in school working with children, not on picket lines and closing dozens of schools.

“But the Scottish government and Cosla should be in no doubt about the determination of school staff and they’ll do what it takes to get an improved pay deal for all local government workers."

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Elsewhere in Scotland non-teaching school staff who are members of GMB Scotland also balloted to strike last week, however Fife is not impacted by these strike plans.

Councillor Katie Hagmann, Cosla resources spokeswoman, said a special leaders meeting had been called to find a "swift" resolution to strike action.

Following a leaders meeting on Friday to discuss the pay offer, she said: “We had a good positive meeting of council leaders earlier today at which they once again reiterated how much they value the whole of the local government workforce.

“In relation to this year’s pay negotiations for the SJC workforce, we discussed options for concluding these negotiations as soon as the outcome of current ballots are known, and to this end, there was agreement to hold a special meeting of leaders as soon as we possibly can.”