A ROGUE trade union official has branded another union’s decision to take strike action “bizarre” in a rift between the two organisations over pay for school staff.

In a letter to members, Unite official Brian McGinty told members to cross the Unison picket line at schools next week and instructed workers to question colleagues on their union’s decision to strike if they are challenged for doing so.

Unite has disowned the letter and said it does not reflect their official policy.

Crossing a picket line is a deeply emotive issue in the trade union movement and could result in Unite and GMB members – whose unions have called off strikes next week – being challenged by their colleagues in Unison.

McGinty, the convenor of the Unite branch in East Dunbartonshire Council, wrote to members to inform them of the union’s decision not to go ahead with strikes next week, after the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities made an improved pay offer on Thursday.

Unite will also ask Unison to “reconsider” its position on pressing ahead with strikes, McGinty said.

'Crossing the picket line'

He wrote: “Unfortunately our colleagues in Unison have taken the bizarre decision to continue with the strike action while balloting their members.

“This pre-supposes that their members will follow their recommendation to reject the offer however if their members vote to accept then they will need to explain to those members why they lost three days’ pay and pensions contributions!

“Our colleagues in GMB have taken the same position as ourselves. Our suspension of strike action doesn’t mean we won’t take up and increase the fight if our members decide to reject this offer.

“Unite believes that this is a good offer for our lowest paid members. We will ask Unison to re-consider their position on next week’s strike.

“In the event that Unison continue with strike action next week our members should attend work as normal with their GMB colleagues, unfortunately this could mean having to cross a picket line.

“If those on the picket line are unhappy about this then you should ask them why they are striking while their own union’s members may well be voting to accept the deal.”

Unite is recommending members back the pay deal while GMB has remained officially neutral on the offer. The latter suggested it did endorse the offer by calling off strikes and putting the deal to members in a ballot.

The latest pay offer from Cosla was a significant improvement by GMB and bosses say the poorest-paid staff stand to benefit from an extra £2000.

Cosla said the total pay package was worth more than £445 million.

A Unite spokesperson said: “This is not official Unite guidance.

“Under no circumstances are we advising our members to cross the official picket lines of any trade union taking strike action.”

The National has approached McGinty for comment.