Waste workers set to strike in Midlothian

Wednesday July 27th 2022

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Waste workers in Midlothian are set to strike as councils across Scotland face industrial action in the coming weeks.

Midlothian Council said it has been notified by the GMB union that at least half of its members working in the local authority’s waste and recycling services have voted for action.

At this stage the council is not expecting any industrial action to hit its schools or early learning centres after unions covering the workforce in those services did not report gaining enough support.

In neighbouring East Lothian, Unite said it had received enough votes from its members to allow strike action in schools and across bin services over the next two months.

Midlothian Council today said: “We’ve only received one formal notification regarding the result of the recent ballots .

“This is from the GMB union informing us that GMB members in the waste and recycling service have voted in favour of industrial action and the required turnout (at least 50%) was met for that action to go ahead.

“We’ve not had formal notification from Unite or Unison. However, from press releases from both these unions it appears the ballots did NOT meet the 50% turnout requirement in Midlothian for industrial action to go ahead.

“At this time the indications are any strike action would be limited to part of the waste and recycling service and not impact on schools or early years’ centres.

“We remain hopeful the ongoing national negotiations will secure an agreement that avoids the need for any industrial action.”

Unions have balloted council workers after they were offered a 2% pay increase.

Unite, which represents thousands of local government workers, balloted its members in schools and cleansing across all Scottish councils.

It said it will be finalising strike dates in the coming week with action in refuse and waste services expected to begin in mid-August. Action specifically impacting schools is expected to begin in early September.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer, said: “Our members are at the end of their patience. They are being forced to take this action due to being completely undervalued despite working throughout the pandemic.

“Let’s be clear here: a 2% pay offer when the broader cost of living is at 11.8% is a punishing real terms pay cut.”

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council, who face action in its school, said: “COSLA is holding further discussions with local government unions this week and we hope that a resolution can be reached to avert strike action which will impact key services.”

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