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Council leader pleased strike action avoided


Council leader Dr Elaine Murray has welcomed the news that workers have voted to accept a pay rise and avoid strike action.

She also wished there was more cash in the coffers to pay employees who worked through the pandemic while colleagues suffered from Covid-19, self-isolation and shielding.

Members of Scotland’s largest local government union, Unison, voted to accept a pay deal after officials secured an additional £48m funding for an improved offer from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

Unison announced the result of its ballot on Monday with more than 75 per cent of workers voting in favour of acceptance.

It means the majority of council workers will receive a pay rise of between 3.4 and 4.7 per cent backdated to January 2021.

Dr Murray said: “This was negotiated at national level and I am very pleased there is to be no strike action which would have disrupted services.

“I just wish we had money to pay people more, but unfortunately we at Dumfries and Galloway Council don’t have the cash.

“People have worked extremely hard during the pandemic doing extra hours and jobs they didn’t expect.

“They have been covering for people who were off ill, or isolating and shielding. It has been a difficult time as I am sure it has been for local authorities throughout the
country.”

She added: “Remember council workers didn’t get the £500 which NHS workers received last Christmas. But the additional backdated payments may make up for it this year.

“And £1,000 will be something welcome before Christmas to help out.”

More than 55 per cent of local government employees earn below £25,000 per annum and the flat rate increase of approximately £1,062 secured for those workers is the highest single uplift in a one-year settlement for the lowest paid that has been achieved. Unison is calling on COSLA to implement the pay deal as soon as possible.

Johanna Baxter, the union’s head of local government, said: “We’re delighted to have secured an improved pay offer for our members which rightly puts more money into the pockets of those on the lowest pay.

“It is just disappointing that Unison members had to threaten to go on strike for their employer to recognise their worth.”

She added: “Our dedicated local government workers have kept our services going throughout the pandemic and we will continue to fight for them and for the services they deliver.

“Empowering our local councils and communities will be critical going forward and we need the Scottish Government to invest in our local services and the key workers who deliver them.”




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