Page last updated at 05:53 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 06:53 UK

Council workers in strike action

Protestors in Aberdeen
There were protests in cities including Aberdeen

Up to 150,000 council staff in Scotland have staged the second 24-hour strike over pay in two months.

Schools, ferry services and rubbish collections were disrupted as members of the Unite, Unison and GMB unions took part in the action.

It comes after the rejection of an amended offer from local authority umbrella group Cosla to change the 2.5% pay offer from three years to one year.

The unions are calling for a 5% increase in line with inflation.

Matt Smith, Unison's Scottish secretary, said he was impressed by the turnout for the strike and threatened more industrial action if the dispute continued.

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BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson joins striking workers at the country's biggest rally in Edinburgh.

He said: "Attitudes have hardened on behalf of the unions since last month's day of action because our members feel really let down by the employers. There is not a penny more on the table, despite their public recognition of the need to reconsider the offer."

A spokesman from Cosla said the strike was "disappointing."

He said: "Striking is not the way to resolve this. As employers we are always willing to talk, we want to settle this dispute, but there must be a reality check.

"The time has come for the unions to be more realistic in their demands."

The Scottish Government said it had urged both sides to settle the dispute.

'Level of disruption'

A spokesman said: "Throughout this dispute, the Scottish Government has been absolutely clear that it expects the two sides to engage in constructive dialogue. Indeed, getting back round the table is the only way that a solution can be found without further frustrating inconvenience for people across Scotland.

"Therefore, we would urge both parties to continue talking as a matter of urgency and avoid the need for strike action. John Swinney has again made this point to both parties in recent days."

The level of disruption had been similar to that during the strike on 20 August.

While teachers were not involved in the industrial action, more than 1,000 schools were closed or partially shut as support staff, such as caretakers and teaching assistants, took part in the strike.

Unison has criticised Perth and Kinross and East Ayrshire councils for keeping schools open which were closed during the last strike.

Perth and Kinross Council said health and safety had been fully considered.

Unemptied wheelie bin
The level of disruption is likely to be the same as during the August strike

A spokesman from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the organisation supported its local authority colleagues.

He said: "The impact on schools will probably be varied, with some schools closing and others opening as normal.

"As teachers are not involved in this industrial action, they are contractually bound to make themselves available for work as normal if their school is open.

"However, teachers will only undertake their normal work, and cannot be compelled by their employer to do the work of a colleague who is on strike action."

Leisure and community centres, museums and council offices were affected by the action in some parts of the country.

Rallies were also held, with a large demonstration at Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.

Hundreds of protesters also held a rally in the centre of Aberdeen, where about 10,000 pupils were affected by school closures.

The strike follows a 24-hour-walkout this week by hundreds of court staff in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union over a 2% pay cap.

Sportscotland and the National Museums of Scotland were also affected by Tuesday's walkout by 1,700 workers.


Tens of thousands of council workers are taking part in the 24-hour walkout which is having an impact on local services across Scotland. Here is a selection of your views on the industrial action:

I'm on strike today from East Lothian Council. Some union members aren't because they can't afford to and with some really bad middle-management going on we see the money wasted.

No one can afford to strike but for years we've taken below inflation rises. All staff are working to do a good job for themselves and the public and we all regret any losses of services but working for a local authority can be so frustrating that being told to "put up with it" isn't the way forward. Sorry to the public who may be affected, but this time we have no other choices. I hope it all gets resolved soon.

Steve Donnelly, Edinburgh

I am the head teacher of a large primary school in Central Scotland. Despite my request to my local authority to close my school on safety grounds, having no janitor or support staff, and on health grounds, down to the fact classrooms and toilets will not be cleaned and the bins not emptied, my request was declined. Local Authorities are not willing to support school staff and as a result are putting pupil safety at risk.

I am unwilling to provide my contact details as I know that I will be targeted by the education authority as a result. I also know that I am one of many head teachers who are being forced to put pupils at risk today.

Anon, Central Scotland

I am at work today at Glasgow City Council and feel that we are lucky in the current climate, and particularly in the reflection of the last week, to even have a job. My brother in law will soon be laid off and will have no work whatsoever. What a privilege to even be offered a wage rise at all. Time for the unions to pull their heads out of their own little fluffy cloud and see the bigger picture. There is no money to go round anywhere, and that includes councils (I bet they'd be the first to complain when the council tax goes up again to pay for what they want).

John Smith, Glasgow

John Swinney cannot wriggle out of his responsibility for the strike by claiming it is a matter for Cosla and the unions. The reason councils don't have enough money to pay their staff properly is that the Scottish Government forced them to freeze council tax levels. Since then, inflation has risen sharply and his sums no longer add up.

Keith Bathgate, Erskine, Renfrewshire

My kids are not at school today because of this industrial action. In this day and age it is shocking that children's education is being targeted like this. Striking militant teachers ruined my education in the 80's now my own kids will be impacted by this bunch. At least they are getting a payrise, many private companies are giving none!
Hamish Barrie, Edinburgh

I am a striking council worker and as such am very sincere in my desire to get a fair pay deal. There are on the surface very valid points from both sides of the divide. What strikes me listening to leaders from all parties involved is that Cosla and the employers want to 'talk' where the unions want to 'negotiate'. Two entirely different approaches. Negotiation requires talking but talking doesn't necessarily mean negotiating! The employers do not want to negotiate but to dictate.
Mike Brown, Glenrothes, Fife

These strikes are disgusting, why should we have to live with rubbish all over the streets, it has nothing to do with the people who live here and pay an awful lot of money for council tax.
Marcus, Edinburgh

Great, just what we need. Our rubbish hasn't been collected in 8 weeks anyway, so now they have a good excuse not to do it for a 9th!
Andrew, Glasgow, UK


SEE ALSO
Pupils 'at risk' during walk-out
22 Sep 08 |  Tayside and Central
Union in 'cost of living' protest
22 Sep 08 |  Scotland politics
Council strike sparks disruption
20 Aug 08 |  Scotland

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