School strikes set to hit Badenoch and Strathspey pupils and parents after Scottish union rejects Cosla pay offer
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Rolling strikes are set to hit schools in the strath and wider Highlands after a major union rejected a pay offer.
Unison members have overwhelmingly rejected the offer from Cosla – the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which acts for all county councils in Scotland – with almost 90 per cent of those voting, choosing not to accept it.
Unison, which is Scotland’s largest local government union, says it will now 'move to a rolling programme of action in schools, and early years establishments linked to schools' over the coming weeks.
Specific dates are expected to be announced 'in the coming days'.
Support staff - including janitors, canteen workers, classroom assistants and cleaners - overwhelmingly voted against the deal.
Schools were disrupted for three days last month after the union turned down the offer from council body Cosla.
Cosla described the ballot result as 'very disappointing'.
But Lilian Macer, Unison's Scottish secretary, said: “No one takes industrial action lightly. It’s a very difficult decision for anyone, but as much as this is about pay, it’s also about standing up for local services.
“The school staff taking part in strike action support children in school every day of the year, and many are parents with school-age children too.
"Workers are taking action because they want children to be educated in well-resourced, well-staffed schools. They want to start trying to reverse years of cuts and under-investment in the workforce and services.
“No one wants to cause disruption for pupils and parents, but school staff have been left with no other option. The blame must be laid squarely at the door of Cosla and Scottish ministers. They have it within their gift to end the strike, but they are showing no sign of wanting to do so. That’s a terrible shame for everyone affected.”
Chairman of Unison Scotland’s local government committee Mark Ferguson said: “Unison’s local government members have voted overwhelmingly to reject this offer, which shows their resolve to fight for the fair pay they deserve.
“I’m a parent myself, so I understand the disruption these strikes cause. But if wages don’t rise, school staff will leave for other jobs beyond education that pay significantly more an hour. That would be a disaster and would help no one.
“The current offer amounts to a real-terms pay cut and adds further stress to a dedicated workforce who are already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis.
"Cosla and the Scottish government need to give school staff a decent pay rise, fund any increase properly and commit to implementing a pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers.”