Council workers offered improved pay rise but no agreement yet

LOCAL government workers in Scotland have been offered a pay increase of five per cent – but no breakthrough has been reached with the unions.

It comes after the Scottish Government pledged another £140 million for council workers’ pay on a recurring basis.

The five per cent pay offer, which was increased from 3.5 per cent, has come through COSLA – the self-described “voice of local government in Scotland”.

Shetland Islands Council leader Emma Macdonald said the five per cent increase was the outcome of a COSLA leaders meeting on Friday.

“The meeting also highlighted the financial pressure local government is under and requested that if no further funding is available from Scottish Government that they recognise the need for further flexibilities,” she said.

SIC political leader Emma Macdonald. Photo: Shetland News

“The five per cent was recognised by many councils as unaffordable and is hoped that Scottish Government will allow further flexibilities in how money is spent in each locality.

“I know that the cost of living is a significant concern and we want to be able to offer our staff a suitable pay settlement.

“As a local authority we are also facing rising costs and increased demand on our services.”

Meanwhile an investment bank said on Monday that rising energy prices could result in inflation topping 18 per cent next year.

This would be the highest rate in nearly five decades.

There is due to be an announcement on Friday about the energy price cap as wholesale costs rise.

It comes as a new report from Citizens Advice Scotland said soaring energy bills are driving “frightening” demand for advice around food insecurity.

Bin workers have been striking in Edinburgh, during the city’s busy festival season, over the local government pay offer and further industrial action is planned in a number of council areas, but not Shetland.

A meeting is planned for Tuesday between unions and COSLA.

But Unite industrial officer Alison Maclean said there “remains insignificant detail on the five percent pay offer, and what this in reality means for the lowest paid workers”.

“At this moment the offer from COSLA remains a vague aspirational pledge but Unite can’t take anything to our wider membership unless we have specifics and guarantees,” she said.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the government has “provided more resources to local authorities to try to facilitate a fairer pay deal and I’m glad to see that COSLA has now put on the table a five per cent pay offer and I hope that now paves the way to these issues being resolved.”

Shetland News