COSLA has welcomed the response from GMB and Unite members in voting to accept a new pay offer for school support staff, although faced criticism for a "frustrating" pay offer. 

GMB and Unite members have now voted to accept the latest pay offer but the negotiation process was criticised by union officials.

It comes after Unison rejected the pay offer on Monday.

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GMB said that 62% of members working in councils had supported the deal offering a minimum increase of £1.04 per hour for the lowest paid council workers, a rise of 9.6% and a minimum increase of £1 per hour for their colleagues.

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland's senior organiser, said: “Our members have now backed this offer which will deliver a fair pay rise for all council workers, but particularly those on the lowest salaries.

“It is not a perfect offer but is a good one and it was right our members, who were ready to strike in support of fair pay, were given the chance to vote on it.

“We have been assured no council services or jobs will be cut to fund this pay offer and will continue to ensure those assurances are kept.”

Greenaway said however that the negotiating process had taken too long.

“That it took the threat of strike action for Cosla to make an offer which could and should have been on the table months ago is frustrating and regrettable,” he said.

“Pay negotiations do not have to be like this. Instead of getting a fair pay offer and the money in their banks, our members have been asked to endure months of inaction, needless delay, and all the melodrama of deadlines and last-minute offers.

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“The Scottish Government and Cosla need to sit down with the unions to find a better way of negotiating and ensuring these discussions are done with a sense of urgency and fairness that has been absolutely lacking in recent months.”

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s members have voted to accept the revised pay offer. A minimum increase of over £2000 for the lowest paid will be a welcome boost to the pay packets of our members during this ongoing cost of living crisis.

“Unite’s members should be congratulated for the strong stance they have taken to deliver better jobs, pay and conditions across all Scottish councils.”

Commenting, councillor Katie Hagmann, Cosla's resources spokesperson said: “I am delighted with today’s response from members of both the GMB and Unite trade unions in voting to accept the strong offer Cosla has on the table.

"Their union negotiators also deserve a great deal of credit for the pragmatic approach they took in recommending acceptance to their respective memberships.

“It is pleasing that these two trade unions see the value Scotland’s council leaders place on our workforce.

“We have listened to our trade unions, met all their asks, and worked with the Scottish Government to put an incredibly strong half a billion pound pay package forward.

“When you extrapolate the votes across all unions it shows that only around one local government worker in five (excluding teachers) has voted to reject the strong pay offer presented.

"Significantly, membership of the two unions who have accepted predominantly comprises those in lower paid roles across local government and this is where we were asked to focus the deal.

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“This is a realistic response from the two trade unions who have recognised that not only have we as employers targeted those workers on the lowest pay as they requested, but they have also recognised that as employers we have gone as far as we can go without impacting service and jobs.

"These are not empty words - we have put our very best and final offer to the unions – councils have been more than fair in this strong offer and the GMB and Unite unions have done well in accepting it without the need to take industrial action.

“Both GMB and Unite have recognised the reality of where we are at this time, on behalf of their memberships, and that is a positive outcome for all.”

Graham McNab, Unite’s lead negotiator for local government, added: “Our members were prepared to take strike action if necessary to achieve this outcome. Let’s be clear that the revised offer by COSLA was only put on the table because of this threat.”

“The revised offer should have been put on the table months ago. Instead, we have witnessed the unedifying spectacle of COSLA and the Scottish Government creating a bigger mess at each stage of this process. 

“Unite will also not tolerate any threats of cuts to services in order to fund this pay offer. Decent pay rises should not come at the expense of vital services being cut in other areas.”