Pickets at Hillhead primary school in Glasgow on Tuesday (Picture: @Si_Macfarlane)

Thousands of school workers in Scotland were right to launch a three-day strike over pay on Tuesday. The Unison union members should have been joined by two other unions. But Unite and GMB announced last week they would suspend action in response to the latest offer from the employers’ body Cosla.

The proposed deal means a below-inflation pay offer of 5.5 percent, just 0.5 percent more than Cosla’s original offer. Unison also says the commitment to pay the lowest paid workers £15 per hour is far too vague. No extra funds are earmarked to fund the small improvements to the offer, so it will inevitably lead to more cuts to jobs and services.

Cosla’s own press release announcing the revised proposals said, “No new money has been identified for this offer”.  Unison Scotland’s local government committee, made up of representatives from local government branches across Scotland, voted unanimously to continue with strikes.

And it is also calling on Unison members to reject the new offer in a consultative ballot. Unite is recommending the deal, the GMB says it is up to members to decide. Disgracefully both will act in a way that encourages their members to scab on the Unison strikers. Sections of the pro‑independence media tried to imply the strike is driven by Unison’s links to the Labour Party.

The suggestion is that Labour wants to bring chaos to Scotland in advance of a by-election next week. That’s laughable, but also a slur on low-paid school workers such as janitors and canteen workers who are battling to defend their living standards. Everyone should support the strikes and not cross picket lines. 

And further strikes could link with 2,000 college workers in Unison who are set to be part of rolling strikes from 4 to 12 October. EIS union members are also set to strike next week with continuing action over mass redundancies and victimisation at Glasgow City College and Edinburgh College.

The school strike was set to hit: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh City, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Moray, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire.

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