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Scottish government urged to ‘take responsibility’ for ending the local government pay dispute

Waste and recycling workers at Edinburgh City Council planning to walk out for almost two weeks from August 18

UNIONS urged the Scottish government to “take responsibility” for ending the local government pay dispute by providing councils with cash for a “substantial” pay increase yesterday.

The call came ahead of a meeting of council leaders yesterday, with the prospect of strike action high on their agenda.

SNP Deputy First Minister John Swinney is in talks with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) on the issue, with discussions described by Holyrood as “very constructive.”

Some 250 waste and recycling workers at Edinburgh City Council are already planning to walk out for almost two weeks from August 18, affecting the capital’s world-famous fringe festival, which runs for most of the month.

Wendy Dunsmore of the Unite union, which represents the workers, said that more action could be announced next week unless a real-terms £3,000-a-year pay rise is granted to staff.  

The three unions representing council workers north of the border — Unite, Unison and the GMB — have already rejected a 2 per cent pay rise offered by local authority leaders.

Ms Dunsmore told BBC Radio Scotland that the action will mean “the streets of Edinburgh are messy, there is going to be no litter picked up.

“It’s not just Edinburgh, other councils will be going out on strike.”

However, “there is an out for this,” she stressed, saying: “If the Scottish government would give money and if Cosla would increase the offer we can stop that.

“[Ministers] have starved local government of funding for the last 10 years – it’s now time for the Scottish government to take responsibility.”

SNP Business Minister Ivan McKee told the BBC: “While it’s a matter for local authorities, as an employer we are very much engaged in the process.”

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