Falkirk Council: Warning services will be hit as council staff vote to strike

Falkirk Council staff have voted to take strike action that could mean “bins will not be emptied, streets will not be cleaned, schools will be shut and recycling centres will be locked”.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 4:02 pm
Updated Monday, 1st August 2022, 1:52 pm

Late on Tuesday Unite the Union confirmed that Falkirk is one of 26 councils whose staff have voted in favour of targeted industrial action, as they rejected a two per cent pay offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The message for both the Scottish Government and COSLA is crystal clear: thousands upon thousands of members won’t tolerate real terms pay cuts any more, and they have had enough.

“Our members are being forced to take this action due to a derisory pay offer, and we will support them in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”

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Unite will be finalising the strike dates in the coming weeks with action in refuse and waste services expected to begin in mid-August. Action specifically impacting schools is expected to begin in early September.

Kevin Robertson, chair of Unite the union, Falkirk Council branch, said: “Our members are at the end of their patience. They are being forced to take this action due to being completely undervalued despite working throughout the pandemic.

“Let’s be clear here: a two per cent pay offer when the broader cost of living is at 11.8 per cent is a punishing real terms pay cut.

“And when our colleagues down south in England and Wales have been offered a pay rise something like 10 per cent, why wouldn’t our members vote for strike action?”

Mr Robertson said that in the coming weeks, the three trade unions involved – Unite, Unison and the GMB – would be working together to coordinate targeted strike action across services in Scotland.

While he said it was too early to say exactly how Falkirk’s services will be affected he said: “The possible impact of any potential strike action could be that bins will not be emptied, streets will not be cleaned, schools will be shut and recycling centres will be locked.”

People taking part in the targeted strikes will receive £70 a day from the union, every day they are on strike.

However, union chiefs still hope that industrial action will be avoided through negotiations.

Mr Robertson said: “We have been repeatedly warning the Scottish Government and the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities since last November that what they were offering was totally unacceptable.

“Now thousands and thousands of members have demonstrated that they will not tolerate real term pay cuts any more – they’ve had enough.

“Our message to the Scottish Government and COSLA and the First Minister is ‘get real, get sitting round the table and get this sorted’.”

In Falkirk, waste services members in the GMB also voted in favour of taking industrial action.

However, locally, members of Unison failed to reach the 50 per cent threshold necessary to call strike action.

Falkirk Council was contacted for comment but said they were waiting to see the full results of all of the ballots.