Fife school strike: pay offer ‘too little too late’ to avert action – union

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Union leaders described a last-minute pay offer to avert strike action which will close Fife’s schools for three days next week as too little too late.

Non-teaching staff who are members of UNISON will take industrial action next week as their long-running pay fight escalates, closing all schools across Fife on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The action will hit primary and secondary schools, nurseries, special schools, early learning and family nurture centres, additional support needs units, childcare services and pupil support services. Pupils will return to remote learning until the buildings re-open on Friday.

UNISON Scotland’s local government committee rejected a last-minute revised offer from COSLA, the umbrella body for all Scottish councils. It said the vast majority of local government staff were being offered 5.5% which was only 0.5% more than COSLA’s original offer made almost six months ago and rejected by members.

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Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said: “These are not well-paid staff, they are on less than the Scottish average wage and it is simply not acceptable. Far from learning the lessons of last year’s dispute the situation has been worse this year, caused further delay local government workers’ pay during a cost-of-living crises and created uncertainty for parents. This is no way to conduct industrial relations.”

Schools will sit empty for three days next week as strike action hits across Fife (Pic: Submitted)Schools will sit empty for three days next week as strike action hits across Fife (Pic: Submitted)
Schools will sit empty for three days next week as strike action hits across Fife (Pic: Submitted)

Mark Ferguson, who chairs UNISON Scotland’s local government committee, added: “The offer is still below the rate of inflation meaning that local government workers are, once again, being asked to take a real-terms pay cut which they can ill-afford during a cost of living crises.

Our members have been left waiting for an improved pay offer for months after their pay uplift was due, and right up until the eve of mass school closures, whilst COSLA and the Scottish Government have prevaricated over who will find the additional money needed to fund any improved offer and where they money will come from.”

Fife Council confirmed yesterday it was closing all schools for three days next week.

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Shelagh McLean, head of education and children’s services said: “We couldn’t know in advance how many of our pupil support assistants, early years officers, admin and clerical staff, janitors, catering and cleaning staff would join the planned strike action. Therefore, we made the difficult decision to close all Fife schools over the three days.”

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