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Summer of strikes ahead?

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By Fiona Reid
Front
Summer of strikes ahead?

WARNINGS have been given of school closures and waste piling up if strikes go ahead in Dumfries and Galloway this summer.

Unison will today start to ballot selected members locally and nationally on if they want to take industrial action in August over a pay dispute.

And the union says if the result is yes, then the action could disrupt the start of the new academic year for schools and nurseries and affect rubbish collections.

Unison has demanded a meeting with, and immediate action from, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. It follows the offer of a two per cent pay increase, which has been rejected.

Unison’s head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “People seem to have forgotten who kept our country going during the past few years – these workers are the ones who kept childcare hubs open so other key workers could get to work, they cared for our most vulnerable and buried our dead. They went above and beyond in service to our communities and deserve to be paid fairly.

“With over half of local government workers earning below £25k each year, low pay remains a significant issue that is seeing councils struggling to recruit into key service areas. As everyday living costs continue to rise, these workers are struggling financially to make ends meet.”

Chair of Unison’s Scotland’s local government committee Mark Ferguson said: “After years of declining pay and cuts to local government budgets, it’s time for Cosla and the Scottish Government to get round the table to ensure sufficient funding is available to give our local government workers the fair and decent pay rise they deserve.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council were contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, rail travellers in the region are also bracing for more travel disruption.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) is to stage three days of strike action on June 21, 23 and 25, which is expected to have a widespread impact.

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