Thursday, 27 August 2009

UNISON warns CoSLA ‘ Back off on pay freeze’

Date: Thursday 27 August 2009

In advance of discussions by council leaders at CoSLA tomorrow (Friday), UNISON, the largest union representing Scottish local council workers, warned council bosses not to threaten a five year pay cut, and to enter pay negotiations with an open mind.

Leaked discussion documents have suggested that up to a five year pay freeze will be on the table as council leaders sit down behind closed doors to discuss their response to the current recession.

Matt Smith, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary said:
"CoSLA leaders would be well advised to back off from any decision to freeze pay at all, far less for five years. Leaked papers suggest that CoSLA recognise the serious problem of low pay in local councils. Any freeze would increase that problem, de-motivate the workforce, impact negatively on services and damage communities.

"Knee jerk reaction to financial difficulties is no way to run local government. It is completely unfair that low-paid cooks, cleaners, care workers and clerical staff should be told that they are to pay the price of the financial incompetence of well-heeled bankers and financiers. Council leaders should talk to staff trade unions about funding, council tax and business rates rather than threatening their staff."

Dougie Black, UNISON Regional Organiser and lead negotiator said:
"It is disgraceful that CoSLA could think it is acceptable to threaten pay cuts to staff that deliver our services. There are appropriate bargaining arrangements to discuss pay. Why doesn’t CoSLA use these rather than leaking material to the media?

"Despite the persistent claims of the private sector, council staff are not well-paid, and have had below inflation pay increases in four out of the last five years. To suggest that it is acceptable for them to continue to have their pay cut for the next five years seems to indicate a macho, bullying attitude that CoSLA would do well to avoid, unless they are keen to provoke a dispute."

The previous pay agreement of a two-year deal ended with the award of 2.5% in April this year.

Negotiations for future years pay increases are scheduled to start in the autumn.


For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary 07771 548 997(m)
Dougie Black, Regional Officer – Secretary, TU negotiators 07958 121 851(m)
Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715 583 729(m)


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