COSLA Ignores Trade Unions on Local Government Pay

Local government is set to face waves of industrial action after the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) agreed a miserly 3% pay rise for local government workers earning under £36,500.

The row was initially prompted by COSLA’s refusal to offer any differentiated pay deals for teachers, despite the fact that they have suffered a real terms pay cut of 25% since 2008. The teachers union EIS, who had been lobbying for a minimum 10% pay rise, branded the settlement “unacceptable”. COSLA insisted that the pay offer was “best and final.”

But 3% is barely above the current rate of inflation - meaning the pay deal is in reality closer to 0.3%. The answer is surely for all council workers to receive an inflation busting pay rise. But that will require the political will to raise taxes on the wealthiest in our society, which at the moment is sorely lacking from the Scottish government.

Scottish Labour has opposed the move, claiming that it undermines collective bargaining agreements. They have called for COSLA to rethink the offer and enter proper negotiations with the trade unions.

Councillor David Ross, leader of the Scottish Labour group at COSLA said:

“This offer falls short and, by making this a ‘best and final’ offer, COSLA is undermining the process of collective bargaining that has been in place for many years.

“It is effectively saying ‘take it or leave it’ without being prepared to enter into any discussion on the merits of the trade union submissions.

“We all know that local government in Scotland is under severe financial pressure and has seen its funding cut and cut again over the past 10 years.  It is clear that local government on its own, can’t afford to meet the trade union pay claims without further significant cuts to local services and jobs.

“But we should be prepared to sit down and discuss this with the trade unions, and further, we should be going back together to the SNP Government to press the case for additional funding for the pay settlement.”

Scottish Labour’s Communities spokesperson Monica Lennon MSP added:

“The reality is that tens of thousands of council jobs have already been lost to the SNP cuts to local budgets and the remaining council workers have had their wages frozen for far too long.

"Once again, we see the SNP government trying to strong-arm local government, ignoring the concerns of councillors and trade unions.

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