Fife councillor attacks John Swinney's ‘frankly astonishing’ comments on council pay

Fife Council’s economy spokesman has branded as “frankly astonishing” comments made by Deputy First Minister John Swinney over the funding of a pay deal for local authority workers as strike action looms in local councils.

Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 3:23 pm

Altany Craik said council staff “need to be the priority of the Scottish Government and not an afterthought.”

His comments came after Mr Swinney sought urgent talks with the UK Government over providing additional funding, and warned the Scottish Government may be unable to fund rises without cuts to services.

And, in a letter to Nadhim Zahaw, Chancellor of the Exchequer he raised concerns that last year’s UK Spending Review - which determined the majority of the current Scottish Budget - “did not take into account the level of pay increase recently proposed by the independent pay review bodies”.

Altany Craik has criticised John Swinney's comments on funding the pay deal for council workers (Pic: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

That led to accusations the SNP was trying to “shift the blame” on public sector pay as the threat of strike action grew.

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Cllr Craik, Fife Council’s finance and economy spokesperson, branded Mr Swinney’s stance as “frankly astonishing.”

He hit out: “To pretend that the paymasters of council funding over the last 15 years have no hand in the state of our finances is disingenuous at best and risible.

“To meet a fair pay rise for the workers, clapped and hailed as heroes over the pandemic, will mean financial support from the Scottish Government.

“Public sector workers have faced years of freezes and below inflation rises that they have had to bear and now, in the face of 10% inflation, the Scottish Government and trying to blame anyone else they can.

It is small wonder that workers are voting for strike action as the last resort.”

Cllr Craik said COSLA - the umbrella organisation for local authorities - had been “put in the terrible position of saying that we cannot offer more without Government financial support.”He added: “We value the work of our workers. It is apparent that the Scottish Government does not.”

Unions have warned that waste will pile up in Scotland and schools will shut unless COSLA tables a “significantly” improved pay offer.

Further talks are due to take place between COSLA and the joint unions.