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£17.2 million extra pay offer brings reprieve for Highland parents and pupils as UNISON suspends all school strikes in Scotland

By Alasdair Fraser

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Boy walking to school class in the morning.
Boy walking to school class in the morning.

All school strikes planned by the union UNISON have been suspended for members to consider an improved pay offer for local government workers.

Strikes by the union would have closed schools across the country on November 8 and 15 as ancillary staff walked out.

COSLA tabled the new deal, saying that additional funding had been found to meet the “extra demands” of Unison –and urged bosses to put the deal to its members.

The local government body said that after “intensive talks” with the Scottish Government, a way had been found to underwrite limited one-off funding to improve the deal.

A Cosla statement said: “This is the final £17.2m to get a package worth more than half a billion over the line, which will increase the wages of our lowest paid employees by £2,000 a year for the second year in succession, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.”

The union says it has negotiated a ground-breaking commitment to tackle low pay across local government, which should deliver above inflation increases for the lowest paid workers for at least the next three years.

It also says that action by UNISON members over the past months has delivered an additional £100 million into the pay packets of local government workers, including the additional £17.2m secured in the last couple of weeks.

The agreement to backdate the full offer to the beginning of April for all workers further benefits around four in 10 of the workforce.

UNISON – the only union to take strike action in the dispute – will put this new pay offer to their members, with the recommendation that they vote to accept it.

The ballot will run over the next few weeks.

UNISON Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “Over the past few months, from the employers' original offer to today, the action of UNISON members has secured more than an additional £100m into the pockets of local government workers. This includes an additional £17.2m secured in the last couple of weeks.

"The improvements put forward today help address low pay and support those in the squeezed middle. The commitment to delivering a minimum rate of pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers by April 2026 will go a long way to tackling low pay across the sector.

"It was UNISON members who stood on picket lines to fight for a better deal. It was UNISON negotiators who brokered this deal. And it will be UNISON members who determine whether it gets accepted.”

Chair of the local government committee Mark Ferguson said: “The commitment to deliver a minimum of £15 per hour for local government workers is ground-breaking and should see above inflation increases for those on the lowest pay for at least the next three years.

"This will make a real difference to their lives.

"Where previous offers only offered talks about the possibility of this being achieved, these improvements make it happen.

"This has been a long-standing UNISON objective to help those on the very lowest pay and we will work hard with COSLA on the practicalities of delivering it.”

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