More Scottish schools to close as UNISON sets further strike dates

UNISON has today served notice of further strike action in the dispute over local government pay, to South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Fife councils.

Staff working in schools, and early years establishments linked to schools, within those four local authorities will walk out on Wednesday 8 November.

This will be the second week of a rolling programme of action that will take place. UNISON has already notified Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde councils, that staff working in schools, and early years establishments linked to schools in those authorities will be taking strike action on Wednesday 1 November.

Further strike dates involving other councils will be announced in due course.

The action comes after UNISON members voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla’s latest pay offer. More than 21,000 workers represented by the union took three days of strike action in September, resulting in the closure of 75% of Scotland’s schools.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “Despite our repeated calls for Cosla and the Scottish government to get back round the table for meaningful discussions we have had no invitations to even exploratory talks.

“The union is committed to reaching a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible. And there is still time for Cosla and the Scottish government to get back round the negotiating table to explore every avenue to reaching a negotiated settlement and avoid further disruption for parents and students.

“The strength of feeling amongst UNISON’s 91,000 local government members, who voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla’s latest pay offer, is clear. They are determined to continue to fight to get an improved pay offer.”

The article More Scottish schools to close as UNISON sets further strike dates first appeared on the UNISON National site.

More Scottish schools to close as UNISON sets further strike dates

UNISON has today served notice of further strike action in the dispute over local government pay, to South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Fife councils.

Staff working in schools, and early years establishments linked to schools, within those four local authorities will walk out on Wednesday 8 November.

This will be the second week of a rolling programme of action that will take place. UNISON has already notified Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde councils, that staff working in schools, and early years establishments linked to schools in those authorities will be taking strike action on Wednesday 1 November.

Further strike dates involving other councils will be announced in due course.

The action comes after UNISON members voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla’s latest pay offer. More than 21,000 workers represented by the union took three days of strike action in September, resulting in the closure of 75% of Scotland’s schools.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “Despite our repeated calls for Cosla and the Scottish government to get back round the table for meaningful discussions we have had no invitations to even exploratory talks.

“The union is committed to reaching a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible. And there is still time for Cosla and the Scottish government to get back round the negotiating table to explore every avenue to reaching a negotiated settlement and avoid further disruption for parents and students.

“The strength of feeling amongst UNISON’s 91,000 local government members, who voted overwhelmingly to reject Cosla’s latest pay offer, is clear. They are determined to continue to fight to get an improved pay offer.”

The article More Scottish schools to close as UNISON sets further strike dates first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: Celebrating our local government champions

It’s a tough time working in local government right now. UNISON members working in councils and schools are telling me their jobs are becoming more and more difficult every day.

Council funding – slashed every year for the past decade – is putting pressure on vital services. And an ever-decreasing number of staff means the ones left are worn out.

Yet council and school workers continue with their hard work to keep our communities together – supporting our most vulnerable and providing precious support where it’s needed most.

Their many hours of hard work are often taken for granted. Mostly by politicians, sometimes by the public, but never by UNISON.

This Wednesday, we are holding our annual local government Champions Day. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate our everyday heroes of local government, and to recognise the incredible work they do.

Workplaces across the country will be holding events and activities to appreciate local government staff and showcase just how much we rely on them.

However your workplace is celebrating, UNISON celebrates with you, and I want to say a huge thank you and well done.

Local government staff always deserve recognition, and I’m proud to lead a union that dedicates time to recognising their worth.

The article Blog: Celebrating our local government champions first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: Celebrating our local government champions

It’s a tough time working in local government right now. UNISON members working in councils and schools are telling me their jobs are becoming more and more difficult every day.

Council funding – slashed every year for the past decade – is putting pressure on vital services. And an ever-decreasing number of staff means the ones left are worn out.

Yet council and school workers continue with their hard work to keep our communities together – supporting our most vulnerable and providing precious support where it’s needed most.

Their many hours of hard work are often taken for granted. Mostly by politicians, sometimes by the public, but never by UNISON.

This Wednesday, we are holding our annual local government Champions Day. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate our everyday heroes of local government, and to recognise the incredible work they do.

Workplaces across the country will be holding events and activities to appreciate local government staff and showcase just how much we rely on them.

However your workplace is celebrating, UNISON celebrates with you, and I want to say a huge thank you and well done.

Local government staff always deserve recognition, and I’m proud to lead a union that dedicates time to recognising their worth.

The article Blog: Celebrating our local government champions first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: Investing in you is investing in our schools and in our pupils

Our streets, villages, towns and cities only thrive when unsung heroes roll up their sleeves to keep our public services going. In every neighbourhood, it’s local government workers who everyone relies on.

And every day, UNISON campaigns to improve their pay and recognition for their essential work.

From maintaining roads to ensuring public safety, their roles are indispensable. But workers find themselves grappling with inadequate pay and shrinking budgets in their workplaces. Pay fails to reflect the value of their work, and local council funding fails to keep up with the need in our communities.

UNISON Scotland has been taking action. On behalf of all local government workers in Scotland, waste workers took strike action last week. And now we’re asking school staff to vote for a second wave of walkouts.

So if you’re one of our members working in a school in Scotland, you have just one week left to vote for strike action. The dispute over pay is at a critical point, as COSLA hasn’t come back with an improved offer since April.

We must demand that you are valued and paid fairly. Investing in you, is also an investment in the future of our schools and all pupils.

UNISON wants a fair deal for all Scottish local government workers. A 12% pay increase, or £4,000 – whichever is greater for each worker – was our claim. But COSLA’s 5% offer goes nowhere near that and was rightly rejected by our members.

Tonight, we’ll be rallying online at 6pm. Join us via YouTube, and encourage your colleagues to join too. You’ll hear from myself and your local government reps, encouraging you all to find that purple envelope that came through the post, cast your ‘yes’ vote and post it back.

You’re the backbone of society, keeping services going despite all you face. This is your chance to stand up for yourselves the way you stand up for your communities every day in your jobs.

UNISON will be with you, supporting you throughout this battle and beyond. By voting for strike action, you can be a beacon of hope for all workers – hope that we are one step closer to rewriting the story of local government into one of fair pay, respect and recognition.

The article Blog: Investing in you is investing in our schools and in our pupils first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: Investing in you is investing in our schools and in our pupils

Our streets, villages, towns and cities only thrive when unsung heroes roll up their sleeves to keep our public services going. In every neighbourhood, it’s local government workers who everyone relies on.

And every day, UNISON campaigns to improve their pay and recognition for their essential work.

From maintaining roads to ensuring public safety, their roles are indispensable. But workers find themselves grappling with inadequate pay and shrinking budgets in their workplaces. Pay fails to reflect the value of their work, and local council funding fails to keep up with the need in our communities.

UNISON Scotland has been taking action. On behalf of all local government workers in Scotland, waste workers took strike action last week. And now we’re asking school staff to vote for a second wave of walkouts.

So if you’re one of our members working in a school in Scotland, you have just one week left to vote for strike action. The dispute over pay is at a critical point, as COSLA hasn’t come back with an improved offer since April.

We must demand that you are valued and paid fairly. Investing in you, is also an investment in the future of our schools and all pupils.

UNISON wants a fair deal for all Scottish local government workers. A 12% pay increase, or £4,000 – whichever is greater for each worker – was our claim. But COSLA’s 5% offer goes nowhere near that and was rightly rejected by our members.

Tonight, we’ll be rallying online at 6pm. Join us via YouTube, and encourage your colleagues to join too. You’ll hear from myself and your local government reps, encouraging you all to find that purple envelope that came through the post, cast your ‘yes’ vote and post it back.

You’re the backbone of society, keeping services going despite all you face. This is your chance to stand up for yourselves the way you stand up for your communities every day in your jobs.

UNISON will be with you, supporting you throughout this battle and beyond. By voting for strike action, you can be a beacon of hope for all workers – hope that we are one step closer to rewriting the story of local government into one of fair pay, respect and recognition.

The article Blog: Investing in you is investing in our schools and in our pupils first appeared on the UNISON National site.

‘Save local services before it’s too late’ says conference

Speakers at UNISON’s local government conference spoke passionately about the effects of cuts to essential public services and the need for action to save these services from decimation.

“Nearly three million people used food banks last year, while the rich are getting richer. We need a government willing to tax the rich to fund public services. We need a party that is unashamedly for the working class,” said one delegate.

According to UNISON research, councils across the UK are facing a funding shortfall of £3.2bn in 2023/24, rising to a cumulative funding gap of £5bn for 2024/25. Councils including Woking, Thurrock and Croydon have declared bankruptcy, while others are being forced to cut essential services such as children’s centres.

The solution, delegates heard, is massive reinvestment in local government from the centre, along with a new, positive vision for local government that recognises the fantastic work done by public sector workers.

As an example of the kind of campaigning work that can be done to help save local services, delegates from Brighton and Hove spoke about the Give It Back campaign, where UNISON is working with other unions as well as Green and Labour councillors, and local businesses, organisations and charities, to demand a reversal of cuts to local services.

As part of the campaign, the organisers are making a series of gravestones representing services which have been cut, which they are planning to set up outside the Houses of Parliament.

While services are being cut to the bone, local government workers are struggling to feed their own families because their pay hasn’t kept up with inflation. Many delegates spoke about their own struggles to make ends meet while also dealing with the effects of cuts at work.

“When you’re paid more for packing cheese than for keeping children safe, something’s drastically wrong,” said one speaker.

UNISON’s research shows that local government staff are thousands of pounds a year worse off than they were in 2009, with qualified residential care workers effectively losing £6,177 a year, refuse collectors £3,506 and teaching assistants £4,813.

Delegates voted for motions that called on the local government service group executive to:

  • continue to campaign for proper recognition of local government services;
  • generate political activity in parliaments across the UK calling for more funding for council services;
  • raise awareness of the importance of local government workers to society through campaigns such as UNISON’s Local Services Champions; and
  • maintain a high-profile campaign to make sure the public understands the needs for properly funded services and decent pay for local government workers.

The article ‘Save local services before it’s too late’ says conference first appeared on the UNISON National site.

£300,000 in back pay for council and schools workers in Bolton

UNISON has secured a deal totalling almost £300,000 pounds in holiday pay for over 2,000 council workers and schools staff in Bolton.

The deal resolves a two-year disagreement between the union and Bolton council, after hundreds of workers’ holiday pay was miscalculated. 

Some workers have already received back pay in their April or May salary with others expected to receive backdated payments in June.

UNISON acting Branch Secretary for Bolton Christine Collins said: “I am delighted Bolton UNISON secured back pay of nearly £300,000 in holiday pay for over 2,000 workers.

“We know that many of our members have really struggled with rising living costs, especially after a decade of below-inflation pay rises, so the back pay could not come at a better time.

“We must not forget, however, that this is pay the workers were entitled to and should have received already.

“For us the law is crystal clear, employers must take account of additional payments including overtime and other enhancements throughout the year when calculating workers’ holiday pay.

“Bolton Council had failed to do this so it’s welcome news that they have accepted this principle. Following discussions with HR, we received a positive commitment to resolve this issue.”

UNISON representative Tony Cowell, who works in refuse collection for Bolton Council, added: “After two years of a constant battle, we got there in the end.

“I am really pleased that we have achieved this win for our workforce.”

The article £300,000 in back pay for council and schools workers in Bolton first appeared on the UNISON National site.

£300,000 in back pay for council and schools workers in Bolton

UNISON has secured a deal totalling almost £300,000 pounds in holiday pay for over 2,000 council workers and schools staff in Bolton.

The deal resolves a two-year disagreement between the union and Bolton council, after hundreds of workers’ holiday pay was miscalculated. 

Some workers have already received back pay in their April or May salary with others expected to receive backdated payments in June.

UNISON acting Branch Secretary for Bolton Christine Collins said: “I am delighted Bolton UNISON secured back pay of nearly £300,000 in holiday pay for over 2,000 workers.

“We know that many of our members have really struggled with rising living costs, especially after a decade of below-inflation pay rises, so the back pay could not come at a better time.

“We must not forget, however, that this is pay the workers were entitled to and should have received already.

“For us the law is crystal clear, employers must take account of additional payments including overtime and other enhancements throughout the year when calculating workers’ holiday pay.

“Bolton Council had failed to do this so it’s welcome news that they have accepted this principle. Following discussions with HR, we received a positive commitment to resolve this issue.”

UNISON representative Tony Cowell, who works in refuse collection for Bolton Council, added: “After two years of a constant battle, we got there in the end.

“I am really pleased that we have achieved this win for our workforce.”

The article £300,000 in back pay for council and schools workers in Bolton first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: We must stop this managed decline of local government

UNISON’s campaign for fair pay continues with full force today as we open our industrial action ballot of over 360,000 local government workers in England and Wales.

Once again, we’re up against restrictive anti-trade union laws that mean we need a big turnout and a big ‘yes’ vote to take strike action. So we’re doing all we can to get out the vote and beat those ballot thresholds.

Pay in councils and schools has fallen by 25% in real terms since 2010. And the employer’s below-inflation pay offer for 2023, goes nowhere near to making up for it, or to dealing with the rising cost of living. In fact, it represents another attempt at managed decline of the pay and standards in local government.

Workers are dedicated to supporting their communities, but they’re overworked and undervalued. For school support staff, half are actively looking for better paid work, many are in debt, and it’s common for people to work second or third jobs to make ends meet.

Low pay is a problem for employers too – they simply cannot recruit the staff they need, or hold onto them, when there are better paid and less stressful jobs elsewhere.

But giving a decent pay rise is affordable for the government. Tax cuts for big businesses and huge profits for gas and oil companies could be dealt with to raise money for local government pay. That would be a political choice that puts communities and workers first – a choice the current government has refused to make over the past 13 years.

We all know by now that common sense arguments don’t work with the Tories in Westminster. They live in a different world and are out of touch with millions of working people in the UK. So we must make every effort to take effective action, to force their hand.

Our members, activists and staff are taking on this challenge together. From today, all our collective efforts will be focused on this ballot, to get a ‘yes’ vote in as many councils as possible.

I know it’s a difficult decision to vote to take action and be prepared to lose a day’s pay, but we’ve won through strike action before in other public services, and I have every confidence we can do it again.

The article Blog: We must stop this managed decline of local government first appeared on the UNISON National site.