Scottish schools are set to shut

Strikes are set to close most schools across Scotland from 26 to 28 September as three unions coordinate action over pay. It’s a battle that will send a message to many other workers that the pay fight has to continue—and be stepped up. Tens of thousands of janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff plan to walk out.

The Unison union’s strikes will hit schools in 24 councils. GMB and Unite’s action will affect ten. A total of 26 of Scotland’s 32 councils will see disruption including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. Unison Scotland’s chair of local government Mark Ferguson said, “The strike mandate we have is the strongest show of strength by our members in decades.

“Their resolve to fight for the decent pay rise they, and all their colleagues across local government, so richly deserve is clear.” Scotland’s local council body Cosla tabled a revised pay proposal last week. But Unison described the changes to the 5 percent original offer as “miniscule” and “insulting”.

The union’s letter to Cosla says the “improved” deal amounts to an increase on the previous offer of only 0.17 percent. For those on the lowest pay it means a rise of only 1p an hour from January 2024. Those working full‑time and earning £25,000 face no increase on the previous offer, which has already been rejected.

Unison Scotland’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said, “It is staggering that Cosla has still not approached, and continues to refuse to approach, the Scottish government for additional funding. Given the state of local authority budgets we believe this to be a dereliction of the duty to stand up for local government and fight for the funding needed to both properly reward the local government workforce and keep our public services running.”

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser in public services, said, “Why should local authority workers in Scotland be offered less than in England? Why should they be asked to accept the unacceptable? If Cosla does not have the will to properly protect the wages of some of the country’s most important workers then the Scottish government needs to intervene and intervene urgently”.

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