150,000 Scottish council employees in Unison, Unite and the GMB have set a date for their strike action over a sub-inflation pay offer which would see schools shut, rubbish uncollected and other frontline services hit.
They overwhelmingly agreed on Thursday to take strike action on 20th August after the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) refused to improve a pay offer of 2.5 per cent a year for the next three years.
Although the offer was marginally better than the 2.4 per cent put forward to council employees in England, where strike action has already taken place, the unions said that it did nothing to deal with low pay in the public sector.
The action may be co-ordinated with the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents Scottish Government civil servants and employees at the Registers for Scotland. PCS members took their first day of action over pay on Thursday. It means that industrial action which started in England has crept north of the Border as both the British and Scottish Governments try to contain inflation.
After the meeting, Jimmy Farrelly, Unite's senior Scottish regional industrial organiser confirmed: "There will be joint action between the unions, commencing with an all-out strike on Wednesday 20 August. This is due to the employer's failure to properly address the issue of low pay within Scottish local government."
He added: "There is a bigger issue here. Some of our members get only 8p more than the minimum wage and this needs to be dealt with."
Unison, which announced 70 per cent support for a strike earlier in the day, said the door was still open for Cosla to come back with an improved offer.
Dougie Black, Unison's lead Scottish negotiator for council staff, said: "This result is a clear rejection of an inadequate offer. Our members are clear that they cannot afford another series of below-inflation pay increases.
"Inflation is at 4.6 per cent and key items on household bills like bread and milk are increasing even faster by as much as 14 per cent. Just this week gas prices went up 35 per cent."
He added: "Our members need a fair offer from their employers. We have a window of opportunity to see if we can avoid disruptive strikes. I hope the employers take it."
Cosla has insisted that there will be no improved pay offer. However, Michael Cook, Cosla's representative, added: "I believe that our current differences are best resolved through negotiation and I and the employers' negotiating team are always available for constructive discussion that takes us towards a mutually agreed solution."