A pay deal has been clinched today with unions that gives council employees in Scotland their best pay deal in a decade.
The deal was secured by the local government umbrella body COSLA with the SJC trade unions which will give 97% of council workers a pay rise of 3.5% backdated to April 2018, another 3% from April 2019, and another 3% from April 2020- amounting to 9.5% in total.
Those earning more than £80,000 will get a flat rate of £1,600 in the first year, then the pay hike will cover the entire workforce in the following two years.
A spokesperson for COSLA described it as ”a very, very good deal in the current economic climate”. ”It’s been a long time since figures like that have been on the table – it’s the best pay deal in a decade,” he said. “This has been a long time in the making, it’s been a tough road, but we’re delighted to have made it.”
The SJC unions comprise of Unison, Unite and GMB, and while Unite had “made a different decision” according to the COSLA spokesperson, it was obliged to accept the joint decision that was reached to greenlight the offer.
Stevie Dillion, Unite regional coordinating officer, explained: “Unite’s local authority membership (non-craft membership) voted to reject the revised pay offer. Unite’s craft membership overwhelmingly voted to accept it. Ultimately, our membership decided to accept this offer. Now, those working in the craft trades will hopefully receive an imminent pay award in recognition of their hard work after the years of austerity which they and their families have suffered.”
The Scottish deal is more generous than the one covering the majority of council staff in England, where those earning an annual salary of £19,430 or more received a 2% pay rise from April 2018 and a further 2% this April. This rise, which is less than the current and projected rate of inflation, does not apply to council chief executives or senior officers.
Scotland hasn’t been as badly hit by austerity measures that have dented the budgets of English councils.
Last October, Cambridge University researchers published a study of local authority budgets in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society that found the average reduction in service spending by councils in England since 2010 was almost 24% in England compared to just 11.5% in Scotland and 12% in Wales.
Although some areas, such as Glasgow, have experienced “significant service loss”, the study suggests that devolved powers have allowed Scottish and Welsh governments to mitigate the harshest local cuts experienced in parts of England.
The COSLA spokesperson said the pay deal had been made “despite the austerity cuts” and “shows how much the workforce here in Scotland are valued”. ”But teachers are in a more difficult place with failure to agree a deal,” he added.
COSLA’s resources spokesperson Gail Macgregor (Con) said she was “absolutely delighted” about the deal.
“I am very pleased that the SJC have seen what a great deal this is and have now formally accepted the three year pay offer which we as employers worked so hard to put on the table,” she said. “We’ll do all we can now to get the pay rise into bank accounts as quickly as possible.”