Unite to reject ‘insulting’ COSLA craft workers pay offer

The Unite union is to recommend its local government craft membership including joiners, labourers, painters and electricians reject a revised pay offer from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

The pay offer is based on a proposal put forward by the local authority body of a 3% increase for 99.7% of the local government workforce.

COSLA said it has set aside £350 million for the increase.

An earlier proposal, rejected by GMB union members in June 2018, offered a 3% increase only to workers earning below £36,500, and a flat-rate increase of £1,600 for staff on higher grades.

A further pay offer, made on September 6, outlined a 3% raise for employees earning below £80,000. However, the trade unions also stated that they would advise members to reject this offer.

Following a meeting of convenors and senior shop stewards in the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC), Unite will now hold a consultative ballot of its members covered by the offer. The development means that both the local authority and craft memberships of Unite will recommend rejection to its membership.

John Gillespie, the chair of Unite Scotland’s construction committee, said: “After discussing the offer in depth, Unite craft representatives have unanimously agreed that this is an insult to construction workers, and to their families, who are the lifeblood of their communities. Craft workers have suffered and this offer is considered a slap in the face to workers who have had to endure years of austerity cuts.”

Steven Dillon, Unite regional co-ordinating officer, said: “I fully support the decision to hold a consultative ballot, especially in construction where workers have suffered real terms pay cuts for too long. These are workers such as joiners, plumbers, labourers, and electricians who deserve to be rewarded for their hard work not with a pay offer which does not reflect the hard work and sacrifice they have made for nearly a decade now.”

Councillor Alison Evison, COSLA president, warned that increasing pay beyond the level of 3% would mean job losses and reducing essential services.

She added: “Scotland’s councils value our workforce highly and we want to see parity across that workforce and parity with other parts of the public sector.

“I ask the trade unions to take a realistic approach and accept our offer. Let us work together for a fairer local government settlement from the Scottish Government.”

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