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UNISON welcomes agreed pay deal for council workers

UNISON, the largest union in local government, welcomed the pay deal for local government workers agreed with COSLA on Friday 1 March.

UNISON members had voted overwhelmingly to accept the offer in January and have been waiting on the outcome of the other local government trade unions to conclude their member consultations.

Now that those other unions have concluded their ballots, and by majority vote of the trade union side at a meeting of the Scottish Joint Council today, the deal was agreed.

COSLA will now write to all councils asking them to process payments.  They anticipate that most will be able to implement in March salaries.

UNISON Head of local government Scotland Johanna Baxter said:  “After a decade of zero or below inflation pay increases it is about time our members got a decent increase.  This is a good deal, delivered as a direct result of the campaigning activity and political lobbying efforts of UNISON members up and down the country.  Given that members have waited almost a year for it we look forward to the employer implementing without delay.”

UNISON chair of local government committee in Scotland Mark Ferguson said: “UNISON has campaigned hard to get the best deal we can for local government workers. While the offer does not make up for the many years of austerity, the deal, and particularly the commitment to consolidate the Living Wage, provides important safeguards for our lowest paid members. We will work to ensure this is properly delivered.”

UNISON members overwhelmingly vote to accept pay offer for council workers

UNISON, the largest union in local government, have today informed COSLA that their members have overwhelmingly voted to accept the pay offer for local government workers.

The move follows a consultative ballot of UNISON Scotland local government members in which 91% voted in favour of the deal and in record numbers. UNISON’s ballot closed on Thursday 31 January.

Results of the ballot were announced at UNISON Scotland’s Local Government Committee today (Friday 1 February).

The pay offer would deliver 9.5% cost of living increase over three years: 3.5% for 2018-19, 3% for 2019-20 and 3% for 2020-21. In addition it provides a commitment to fully consolidating the living wage, putting more money in the pockets of lower paid council workers, something UNISON has been campaigning on for years.

It also provides a commitment to re-open negotiations in the event of another local government bargaining group’s total pay offer value is revised such that it becomes greater than the sum agreed between COSLA Employers and the SJC Trade Unions for the SJC workforce for the period of the agreement. The award will be backdated to 1 April 2018.

UNISON Head of local government Scotland Johanna Baxter said: “This is a great outcome, delivered as a direct result of the campaigning activity and political lobbying efforts of UNISON members up and down the country. The cost of living increases meet current and projected levels of RPI and we have secured commitments to fully consolidate the living wage and maintain parity across the local government workforce. Our members have been waiting on a pay increase for over a year now so look forward to receiving their increase soon.”

UNISON chair of local government committee in Scotland Mark Ferguson said: “UNISON has campaigned hard to get the best deal we can for local government workers. While the offer does not make up for the many years of austerity, the offer, and particularly the commitment to consolidate the Living Wage, provides important safeguards for our lowest paid members.

“We will work to ensure this is properly delivered and local government workers will now receive back dated money in their pay packets in coming months.”

Local Government Pay Ballot closes 31 January – make sure you have your say

Consultative Local Government Pay Ballot for UNISON members in Scotland

Consultative Local Government Pay Ballot for UNISON members in Scotland
Consultative Local Government Pay Ballot for UNISON members in Scotland

UNISON’s Local Government Pay  consultative ballot in Scotland closes on 31 January so make sure that you have your say.

The pay offer is for a period of three years and covers the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021. The award for 2018 will be backdated to 1 April 2018 application date.

The pay offer and associated elements which make up the package are as follows: – 

  • 2018/19 an increase of 3.5% (capped at £80,000, on or above which a flat rate of £1600 will apply).
  • 2019/20 an increase of 3% 
  • 2020/21 an increase of 3% 

UNISON recommends acceptance..

UNISON welcomes improved pay offer for council workers

COSLA have today,  Wednesday 19 December 2018,  tabled an improved pay offer for local government workers, a move which has been welcomed by the trade union UNISON.

The improved pay offer has come after months of campaigning and negotiations by UNISON and sister trade unions (GMB and Unite) and years of below inflation pay increases. The new offer would deliver 9.5% cost of living increase over 3 years: 3.5% for 2018-19, 3% for 2019-20 and 3% for 2020-21. In addition it provides a commitment to fully consolidating the living wage, putting more money in the pockets of lower paid council workers, something UNISON has been campaigning for, for years.

UNISON have welcomed the move and its local government committee agreed this morning to ballot their members in the new year, urging them to accept the offer.

Johanna Baxter, Head of Local Government (Bargaining) said: “This revised and improved offer would never have been achieved without the resolve, campaigning activity and political lobbying efforts of UNISON members up and down the country. Whilst the offer does not make up for the many years of austerity the provision of cost of living increases which meet current and projected levels of RPI is welcome as are the commitments to fully consolidate the living wage and maintain parity across the local government workforce.”

Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON’s Local Government Committee said: “This offer does not meet all of our expectations but it is move in the right direction after a decade of below inflation increases and job cuts. Many of our low paid members have patiently waited on their employer to consolidate the living wage – the employers past failure to deliver on that has resulted in eradication of pay differentials on the pay model for those doing the most demanding jobs.”

It’s ONE team – we all deserve fair pay

Vote Reject in pay ballot
Vote Reject in pay ballot


UNISON Scotland is calling on Local Government members to REJECT the employers’ latest pay offer in an online ballot running from 16 October to 5pm on 7 November. You can vote from the link on this page. The ballot will also ask you whether you are willing to take industrial action up to and including strike action in pursuit of our full claim.

The final offer from the employers, after months of campaigning and negotiations, is 3% for one year for workers earning up to £80,000. This  is below inflation and does not improve low pay. Despite assurances from CoSLA about parity and fairness across local government workers, the signs are that some teachers could get 10%.

Click here for FAQs and links to all the updates on the negotiations.


UNISON is emailing all members we have an email address for (and who have opted in to receiving emails) with a link to the online ballot.  Even if you haven’t had an email, you can still vote using the link above.

No internet access? If you don’t have access to the internet or if you are having problems with the online ballot, you can vote by phone at UNISON Direct on 0800 0857 857

Not yet a member? CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW BEFORE 28 OCTOBER! New members joining UNISON before 28 October 2018 will get a vote on this offer. If they provide an e-mail address to the union when they join they will be sent an e-mail with a link to their ballot after this date but before the close of ballot on 7 November.

Make sure you use your vote!

  • Encourage your fellow members to vote.
  • Recruit your colleagues to the union and get them to vote.
  • Share this info on your social networks so people understand why the offer is unacceptable.
  • Get involved in the work of your local UNISON branch.

More information available at UNISON Scotland site.

Local Government One Team delivering for our local communities

New UNISON postcard campaign demands fair pay for all in local government

UNISON is calling on all local government members to send a

Local Government ONE team social media card (2)

postcard to CoSLA  (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) demanding fair pay for all who work in local government. This builds upon the postcards delivered to John Swinney from our members working in Education calling for parity in the pay award with the teachers.

The new postcard campaign, Local Government , One Team. delivering for our local communities, will take the demand for fair pay to CoSLA in advance  of the next meeting of Council Leaders on 31 August, so they will be more than aware of the strength of feeling among UNISON members.

The unions have smashed the public sector pay cap with the current offer for local government employees, at 3% for those earning £36,500 or less, 2% for those earning between £36,500 and £80,000, and a £1600 flat rate for those earning above (all based on a 37 hour week), but it still is not nearly enough to make up for the years of under inflation pay rises.  Moreover, there should be no reason that other sectors of local government deserve a greater pay award.

Whilst COSLA have been consistent in their agreement with the unions about the need to uphold the principle of parity across the local government bargaining groups,  UNISON needs your backing to  give them the power to their elbow in their discussions with the Scottish Government and to remind them that we will not give up on this.  So get your postcards from your stewards, and get them filled in and sent off or back to the branch.

Family Fun Day at New Lanark Sunday 19 August

Alastair McDonald at New Lanark Family Fun Day
Alastair McDonald at New Lanark Family Fun Day 2017

Don’t miss a fantastic free family fun day at New Lanark World Heritage site on Sunday 19 August. All members, their families and friends welcome.

There’s  music from Scottish folk singer  Alastair McDonald, ukulele and guitar duo Palmeros,   the Carmunnock Covers, the Easkilbusbies,  and some light original jazz from Mhairi.

Learn to write songs with well known Scottish singer songwriter Carol Laula… and a chance to perform them (only if you want to!)

Plenty to do for the kids too with a bouncy castle, balloon modelling, face painting and story telling and the Universal Connections Bus just in case they can’t keep away from technology, with access to tablets and 3D movies.

Free buses from EK, Hamilton and Glasgow Contact the South Lanarkshire UNISON Branch Office on 01698 454225/4690  to book your places.

Homelessness campaign: A secure home is a basic human need

UNISON is challenging all political parties and interest groups to work together to develop a national strategy to address homelessness, a strategy that will look at the causes, the health perspective and the impact of welfare reforms.

The strategy needs to look at housing solutions, including the building of council and other social housing, affordable for the homeless and low income households. The union will also continue to campaign for the end to welfare cuts and income austerity, to highlight the plight of homeless people and to call for an end to rough sleeping.

Anna Boyle, moving the South Lanarkshire motion on homelessness, said, “The increase in homelessness in recent years is an issue that directly affects many UNISON members who are working with those experiencing homelessness or may be at risk of becoming homeless themselves, particularly those in private rented accommodation or reliant on in-work benefits.”

Anna explained that having a secure home is a fundamental human need, “Without this there is a negative impact on other areas of life such as family relationships, physical or mental health. This then results in increased demand on various support services and undoubtedly an increased cost for services which are facing harsh funding cuts.”

She pointed out that the Welfare Reform Act had been the biggest change in welfare reform since the inception of the Welfare State in 1945 a change that most affected the young, women, and the disabled. She referred to “The chaos which is Universal Credit, we are glad that the Labour Party are now seeing the insidious nature of this”

Kate Ramsden, moved the NEC amendment, highlighting the new Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 – a key policy development in tackling homelessness in England that came into force in April this year and is modelled on a similar law introduced in Wales three years ago, placing a duty on councils to help prevent homelessness of single people and families.

Kate  warned, “Although, UNISON has welcomed the new law, we believe that it is massively Councils have been given £72m over the next three years to deliver the preventative and relief duties in the act, but this is nowhere near enough, given the depth and scale of the homeless crisis. “

She illustrated the problem with some statistics from a recent report by Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation – there has been a 169% rise in rough sleeping, a 48% rise in the number of homelessness cases dealt with by local councils and a staggering 250% rise in people living in bed and breakfast accommodation since 2010.

Kate said, “This means that in England more than 9,000 people are living on the streets; and more than 78,000 households are living in temporary accommodation – this figure could rise to 100,000 by 2020. The human misery this will cause doesn’t bear thinking about.”

She blamed failed government housing policies and the chronic under-investment in housing, “This has led to the worsening of the homelessness crisis, as there are simply not enough social rented homes or low cost homes at below market prices to house the homeless and low paid households.”

Caroline McLean, Edinburgh City, supporting the motion, and a Housing Officer working in Homelessness Services for the authority, “The service provides a one stop shop for complex needs clients such as housing, social work, GP practice, community psychiatric nurses, welfare benefits and so on.

Caroline said “My main role is to assess persons who present as homeless using the legislation criteria to determine homeless status, Homeless, local connection, intentionality. Once I’ve determined the person is homeless, I will refer them for temporary accommodation which could be a hostel, supported unit or a B&B, “,

She pointed out that it’s often hard to find accommodation – they run out of accommodation or a supported unit refuses because their needs are too high, or a B&B refuses because of the way they look or they have been problematic in another B&B, and of course B&B staff are not trained to deal with homeless people.

Then on the other hand, the homeless person may refuse accommodation, Caroline explained, they have stated it’s often safer to sleep on the streets, and if they do take accommodation they don’t like to complain as they could be asked to leave.

Caroline stated, “The amount of money spent on B&B accommodation is astronomical and could have been better spent on building houses as well as accommodation for homeless people who cannot manage a tenancy”

“ It’s frustrating for Housing Officers knowing that the accommodation we require for our vulnerable homeless people is not there, and more frustration when you have to tell them there is no accommodation left. So you need to return tomorrow. This often leads to Housing Officers being verbally abused and threatened.”

Caroline urged us all to get behind the motion and hold the UK Government to account in dealing seriously with homelessness. Every person is entitled to a safe place to live.”

In Turkey if you are a trade unionist you are a target. If you are a Kurd you are a terrorist. If you are a woman you have no right to a voice

UNISON has pledged to continue its support for workers’ rights in Turkey through initiatives from the European Federation of Public Service Union (EPSU) and Public Service International (PSI). This will include putting pressure the UK Government to prioritise human rights and democracy in its negotiations with Turkey – calling for fair hearings and re-instatement for public service workers arbitrarily dismissed, an end to the repression of the Kurdish people, the lifting of media outlet closures and release of jailed journalists, and the release of political prisoners and to resume the peace process.

The union will also urge the UK government along with the EU member states to support the resettlement of refugees from Turkey rather than returning refugees and asylum seekers to Turkey on the flawed basis it is a safe third country.

Margaret Gallacher, South Lanarkshire, supporting the NEC motion, said, “There is just so much to say about the horrific situation in Turkey, and in Scotland we’ve been passing motions on various issues in support of the oppressed in Turkey in the last few years and in particular in support of the Kurds who have been persecuted in Turkey for many many years.”

Margaret put it simply, “In Turkey if you are a trade unionist you are a target. If you are a Kurd you are a terrorist. If you are a woman you have no right to a voice.”

She alluded to Margaret Atwood ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and compared it to the situation in Turkey, “You will see how easy it is to subvert democracy and subdue particular sections of society. It starts with women being subjugated by having their bank cards voided and workplaces were emptied with the removal of their right to work.”

“That’s what has happened to thousands in Turkey, where the government used terror laws to clamp down on legitimate activities such as trade unionism and journalism and jail trade unionists, journalists, members of women’s groups and public sector workers. They removed the right to work from thousands more and if your bank account was held in certain banks your funds would be frozen and you could also be jailed for banking at that particular bank.

Margaret told us that the South Lanarkshire Branch runs a solidarity campaign sending postcards to female prisoners in Turkish jails and urged other branches to build links with prisoners, trade unions and women’s groups in Turkey and pointed out that they had managed to persuade some of our Scottish politicians to pair themselves with jailed politicians in Turkey and show solidarity at trials.

Margaret urged, “We must demand that Turkey frees all political prisoners, including Abdullah Ocalan who is revered by millions of Kurds and as their political leader is key to re-establishing real democracy and peace in Turkey. While he’s imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement there can be no reconciliation between the Kurds and the Turkish Government.”

She concluded, “Turkey has to listen and know that the world is watching and our government needs to stop selling arms to Turkey and cosying up to the dictator Erdogan.”

Save and support library and cultural services

UNISON Local Government Conference 2018

UNISON will take its campaign to save and support library and cultural services to our politicians, our members and our communities, highlighting the importance of these services to our communities. The campaign will look for branches to lobby their politicians, encourage their members and their communities to use the libraries and other cultural services such as museums and public parks, and to get their councils to sign up to a new cultural charter.

Margaret Gallacher moved the South Lanarkshire motion, explaining how important a role libraries and librarians play in this modern age helping us to filter the information overload and to help develop our critical thinking, “Perhaps if librarians were called information officers people would understand their role better and therefore understand their importance.”

“We need libraries and librarians to help us pick our way through fake news and misinformation. Libraries also play an important part in raising literacy. They are trusted spaces, open to all, where we can explore reading, share information and deepen our knowledge of the world. Libraries enable equal reading and learning opportunities.”

Margaret told us that museums too are inclusive community spaces.”Without museums we lose tangible links to the past. They give us enlightenment and entertainment, social cohesion, and tourism. They boost our mental health and wellbeing. They nurture talent and creativity. They give us less anti-social behaviour, more empathy and understanding and a pride in our heritage and surroundings.“

She explained that open spaces improve our quality of life by lifting our spirits, giving us “healthy habitats for humans, wildlife and plants. Every tree reducing air pollution and the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and helping cool cities. Resulting in better general health, reduced stress, and reduced depression.”

Margaret slammed closures in libraries, museums and other cultural facilities in some authorities, and drastically reduced staffing in most other authorities with more lone working, more casual staff and zero hours and volunteers, “To get quality services you need specialised staff but many cultural venues are now in arms length organisations and trusts where the emphasis is on income generation and where services are more likely to be run by casual staff or volunteers.”

Margaret quoted well known author and staunch supporter of libraries, Neil Gaiman, “Libraries really are the gates to the future. It is unfortunate that round the world we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.  A world without libraries and culture would be an impoverished one,”