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Date:Weds 24 September 2008

Council services grind to a halt across Scotland

UNISON, Scotland's largest council union, said that today's strike has been massively successful, with similar numbers (around 150,000) taking part as in the last strike on 20 August. That strike prompted employers to offer further talks and 'to look to a settlement which takes account of the rise' in inflation since their first offer.

The failure of the employers to improve their offer at that meeting - whether this was because of internal inability to agree or reneging on public commitments - led directly to this further strike by the three unions involved in the action (UNISON, GMB and Unite).

he action is hitting council services across Scotland, disrupting schools, nurseries and community education, social care services, cleansing and environmental health, housing, planning, roads and transport - including closing ferry services in Argyll and the Highlands - registry services, parks, leisure and recreation, libraries and museums, halls and theatres and many more.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "Attitudes have hardened on behalf of the unions since last month's Day of Action because our members feel really let down by the employers. There is not a penny more on the table, despite their public recognition of the need to reconsider the offer.

"CoSLA badly needs a reality check. The employers told us 5 weeks ago that they would make an offer in terms of the increases in inflation, but they have refused to put another penny on the table.

"Until CoSLA makes a better offer strike action will continue."

A major demonstration will take place in Edinburgh, with a rally at 1.00pm at the Ross bandstand at Princes Street Gardens. Speaking will be UNISON's Scottish Organiser, Glyn Hawker, and Angela Nicoll, a low paid nursery nurse from West Dunbartonshire.

There will also be speakers from the GMB and Unite. Whilst this will be the main focus, other rallies will take place in parts of Scotland where members would have difficulty attending Edinburgh. Rallies are planned in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, and Dumfries. Details are on our website at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt/pay2008/strikeday.html

Glyn Hawker said, "Taking further industrial action is regrettable, but our members and their colleagues have no alternative. The employers' betrayal has angered our members. Our members are not the causes of inflation or the credit crunch, they are the victims of it. The success of today's action shows that they simply want to be treated fairly by their employers."

Attempts by a number of councils to open schools that were closed last month, have been condemned by the union. These have been done with no or untrained staff covering fire safety and health and safety, with no lunches or no hot lunches - even where children get free school lunches, with pupils drafted in to keep schools clean, and planning to abandon procedures to warn parents if pupils fail to arrive, or to enable parents to contact the school.

Tracey Dalling, UNISON's Regional Organiser for local government said "It is extremely worrying that some councils are risking our kids' safety in order to try and claim some kind of one-upmanship over their striking staff, and it is very confusing for parents. These frantic half-baked plans to try to open schools not only put children at risk, but mean that parents don't know whether to send children to school or not. Councils have had weeks to give a clear message to parents, where they are trying this tactic they are not only angering support staff, but alienating teachers and parents."


For Further Information Please Contact: Dougie Black (Regional Organiser) - 07958 Tracey Dalling (Regional Organiser) - 07904 341 989(m) Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser) - 07876 441 237 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) - 07715 583 729 (m)