COSLA: Council workers should accept 3% pay rise

17 Sep 18

Local government workers in Scotland have been urged to accept a revised 3% pay deal in order to avoid job losses and cuts to services. 

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said the £350m package, which would apply to 99.7% of the workforce, put council employees on a par with workers elsewhere in the public sector.

Pay expectations within local government have been stoked by the Scottish Government’s removal this year of the 1% public sector pay cap, boosting pay for teachers, nurses and police officers.  

However, the UNISON and Unite unions have recommended that their members reject the deal, saying it would leave local government workers lagging behind the rest of the public sector.

Alison Evison, president of COSLA, said the proposal represented a “massive investment” in the local government workforce, and urged unions to take a “realistic” approach by accepting the offer.

“As employers, we always have two things running side by side to balance - firstly, the need to maintain and protect essential services for our communities and secondly, the ability to make a fair offer to our workforce which we value highly,” she said.

“This is not always an easy or a comfortable balancing act, but what council leaders have come up with this year for our workforce attempts to meet these twin aspirations.

“Given that there is no money for pay in our settlement from Scottish Government for the general workforce, unlike other parts of the public sector, increasing pay beyond this level of 3% would mean more job losses and reducing essential services even further.”

Gail Macgregor, COSLA resources spokesperson, added that the proposal represented an investment in the workforce which would cascade down to local communities and local economies.

“It shows that we as employers value our workforce very highly and…it reminds people that our workforce, which delivers the essential services we all rely on, is as important as other parts of the public sector workforce,” she said.

But Johanna Baxter, UNISON’s head of local government bargaining, said the offer did little to address low pay, while exacerbating concerns about fairness across the public sector.

“The Scottish Government has found an additional £25m for teachers pay, which will result in some teachers receiving pay increases of over 10%, however this offer has no additional money to address low pay in local government,” she said.

Unite regional organiser James O’Connell said Unite members were “just as deserving” as teachers. 

“COSLA promised parity of treatment and need to deliver it,” he said. 

COSLA is the national association of Scottish Councils and has 32 member authorities.

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