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Date: Fri 1 Aug 2008

Scotland's local service providers vote 'Yes' to strike in pay row

A ballot of 100,000 local government workers across Scotland has delivered a 70% majority for strike action, the main union UNISON announced today. A meeting of its local government branches being held today (Friday) will decide the union's next steps in the dispute over pay.

The ballot was called after Scotland's local council employers offered a 2.5% rise each year for three years. All three local council unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite (T&G)) rejected the offer their members. Now the members of all three unions have voted to pursue their claim with strike action. This is the result from the majority union.

The form of the industrial action will be decided in discussions between the three unions later, but is likely to comprise a day of all-out strike followed by selective action from key sections of staff.

Dougie Black - UNISON's lead negotiator for local council staff said "This result is a clear rejection of an inadequate offer. Our members are clear that they cannot afford another series of below inflation pay increases. Inflation is at 4.6% and key items on household bills like bread and milk are increasing even faster. Our members need a fair offer from their employers. We have a window of opportunity to see if we can avoid disruptive strikes. I hope the employers take it."

UNISON's local government members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland took strike action over a similar 2.45% offer on 16 and 17 July. The union has also announced that it intends to demand reopening negotiations in the NHS over a three year deal which offers similar rises (2.54% and 2.5%) in years two and three.

Stephanie Herd, Chair of UNISON's Local Government Service group said "Our members are not the cause of inflation, they are the victims of it. They have the worst pay, holidays, parental rights and sick pay in the public sector and without them vital services will fall apart. The offer is a pay cut, increases the differential between higher and low paid and locks us into likely pay cuts for three years."


Notice for editors: UNISON and the other local government unions claimed an increase of 5% or £1,000 (whichever was the greater), from 1 April 2008. Scottish Local Councils have offered an increase of 2.5% a year for the next three years. The ballot was held from 1-31 July this year. It was run by Electoral Reform Services who reported there was a 36% return with 22,941 voting 'Yes' to strike action and 9,681 voting 'No'. UNISON organises local government staff in Scotland including social workers, housing staff, library workers, cleansing and environmental protection staff, technicians and trading standards workers, early years workers, cooks, cleaners and classroom assistants.

For further information please contact: Dougie Black, Regional Officer - Secretary, TU negotiators 07958 121 851(m) Stephanie Herd, Chair - TU negotiators 07989 544 162(m) Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715 583 729(m)