School staff, care home workers and binmen could all be balloted for industrial action unless there is immediate movement on local authority pay, union chiefs have warned.
With talks taking place in most of Scotland’s councils over the formation of governing administrations, bosses at Unite insisted action on pay for local government workers must be top of their agenda.
The demand for action comes in the wake of council elections last week, which saw only two councils return a majority for a single party – with the SNP winning control of Dundee City Council, while Labour won overall control of West Dunbartonshire Council.
And with new council leaders being installed across the country, Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham said the trade union was “getting battle-ready” in a bid to secure a pay rise for workers.
The union has already conducted a consultative ballot, which found that 91% of its members would be prepared to take industrial action.
And Unite confirmed it is now in the process of targeting selected groups of workers employed in all 32 Scottish authorities, with a view to balloting members in schools, home care and council cleansing departments as early as June.
Ms Graham said: “Unite’s members across local government in Scotland have had enough of year-on-year pay freezes and cuts, which is why we are getting battle-ready to deliver the pay rise they deserve.”
With union members now preparing to vote on strike action, she added that “from the Shetland Islands to the Borders, Unite’s members have their union’s full backing in their fight for decent pay”.
Unite industrial officer Wendy Dunsmore said: “The first thing in the in-tray for the new council leaders is Unite’s warning that unless there is a change of attitude then we will ballot thousands of our members on industrial action.”
She said that leaders of the local authority body Cosla had previously voted against making any further pay offer, accusing them of “treating our members with utter contempt”.
Ms Dunsmore said: “Cosla has proven themselves to possess zero backbone when it comes to standing up against the Scottish Government and demanding that services and workers get the support they deserve.”
A Cosla spokesperson said: “We remain in ongoing negotiations with our trade union partners.”