School and bin collection strikes could hit Argyll and Bute

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Council staff working in education and refuse centres in Argyll and Bute have voted to strike this summer in a pay dispute with the Scottish Government.

Workers in waste and recycling could leave rubbish ‘piling up in the streets’ if workers do not get a better offer than the ‘derisory’ two per cent on the table, unions warned.

School walk-outs could happen after pupils return from the summer break on August 15.

Talks were held on Friday and Monday between the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the unions, which are demanding COSLA comes back with an improved offer.

COSLA says it is waiting for the Scottish Government to respond to requests for extra funding for councils.

Local government emerged as the biggest loser from the latest Holyrood spending review, with its funding frozen for the rest of the parliament.

Trade unions say more than half of Scotland’s 250,000 council workers are earning less than £25,000 a year for a 37-hour week.

Unions warned all new council leaders if they did not act to improve pay, they would see strikes this summer.

About 25,000 council workers from the Unite, Unison and the GMB trade unions, in all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, were balloted over a two per cent pay offer, as the cost of living crisis sees inflation rose to 11.8 per cent.

Unite balloted its members in schools and cleansing. In 26 councils, including Argyll and Bute, they rejected the ‘derisory’ two per cent pay offer and voted for industrial action.

Action in refuse and waste services is expected to begin in mid-August and school strikes in early September.

Scotland’s largest local government union UNISON didn’t reach the 50 per cent turnout threshold required by the 2016 Trade Union Act in Argyll and Bute.

However, Unison said the vast majority of those who did vote were in favour of action.