UNISON votes for further school strikes in Scotland

As much as this is about pay, it’s also about standing up for local services.

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, has today (Monday) announced a rolling programme of strike action in schools across the country in the coming weeks.

It comes after UNISON members voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla’s pay offer, with  nine in ten workers (89.92 %) voting against the offer in a consultative ballot.

UNISON will now move to a rolling programme of action in schools, and early years establishments linked to schools, from Shetland to Stranraer. Dates will be announced in the coming days.

UNISON’s Scottish secretary Lilian Macer said: “No one takes industrial action lightly. It’s a very difficult decision for anyone, but as much as this is about pay, it’s also about standing up for local services.

“The school staff taking part in strike action support children in school every day of the year, and many are parents with school-age children too.

“Workers are taking action because they want children to be educated in well-resourced, well-staffed schools. They want to start trying to reverse years of cuts and under-investment in the workforce and services.

“No one wants to cause disruption for pupils and parents, but school staff have been left with no other option. The blame must be laid squarely at the door of Cosla and Scottish ministers. They have it within their gift to end the strike, but they are showing no sign of wanting to do so. That’s a terrible shame for everyone affected.”

Chair of UNISON Scotland’s local government committee Mark Ferguson said: “UNISON’s local government members have voted overwhelmingly to reject this offer, which shows their resolve to fight for the fair pay they deserve.

“I’m a parent myself, so I understand the disruption these strikes cause. But if wages don’t rise, school staff will leave for other jobs beyond education that pay significantly more an hour. That would be a disaster and would help no one.

“The current offer amounts to a real-terms pay cut and adds further stress to a dedicated workforce who are already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis.

“Cosla and the Scottish government need to give school staff a decent pay rise, fund any increase properly and commit to implementing a pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers.”

Notes to editors:
-Iinterview opportunity: Lilian Macer, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, is attending the SNP conference in Aberdeen and will be available for interview ( stand 23 ). To arrange an interview please contact Stephen Low on 07956 852822.
-UNISON is Scotland’s largest local government union.
-A consultative ballot of all local government workers closed today (Monday) with 89.92 % voting to reject the offer. There was a turnout of 57.27 %.
-UNISON’s local government committee will meet this week to set dates for further strike action across Scotland’s schools.
-UNISON has secured mandates to take strike action in 24 local authority areas, of every size and geographical scale, across Scotland – Aberdeenshire Council, Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council, The City of Edinburgh Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Fife Council, South Lanarkshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Glasgow City Council, Clackmannanshire Council, Moray Council, South Ayrshire Council, Stirling Council, West Dunbartonshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, East Dunbartonshire Council, Dundee City Council, Inverclyde Council, Angus Council, East Renfrewshire Council, Perth & Kinross Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council, and Renfrewshire Council.
-UNISON’s strike mandate covers over 21,000 members covering the full range of school support staff duties, including school cleaners, caterers, janitors and school support assistants. It UNISON’s mandate covers members working in over 1,868 schools across Scotland.

Media contacts:
Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government M: 07817 120894
Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON’s local government committee M: 07773 342570
Stephen Low, UNISON’s policy officer M: 07956 852822 E: s.low2@unison.co.uk