Scottish Unions and Councils Must Find Common Ground to Prevent Potential Summer Strikes

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The last thing parents and students need in the coming months is a wave of school closures caused by strikes. With a reported rat infestation in our largest city, we can’t afford to have overworked sanitation workers walking off the job.

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Amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and with family budgets under immense strain, the importance of local community services is greater than ever. Yet Scotland is bracing for a summer of discontent, with council strikes potentially impacting essential services.

Councils are reportedly offering staff a meager two percent pay raise, while unions are pushing for a more substantial deal. The reality is that both sides must come to the table quickly to prevent strike action from disrupting daily life.

Compromise can’t be a dirty word in these talks, as neither side will get everything they want. Unions must understand that financial constraints make an inflation-busting raise unrealistic. However, councils also need to recognize that a two percent raise is inadequate, and an increase in line with inflation might be required. Both sides agree that the Scottish Government has a role in ensuring services remain operational.

Last year, the government intervened to end a strike, and it may need to do so again. While ministers don’t have limitless resources, they should have some emergency funds. It’s crucial for all parties to sit down and prevent the situation from escalating into a full-blown crisis. By acting collaboratively, councils, unions, and the government can avoid a summer of strikes.

Meanwhile, the frequency of sewage discharge into Scotland’s waterways is alarming, with a record 21,000 incidents in 2023. Some might think this is mainly an issue affecting England, but the official data show otherwise.

It’s particularly embarrassing for SNP and Green ministers, as many of the areas they represent are experiencing rampant sewage dumping. Filthy wastewater poured into rivers, lochs, and seas in their constituencies for hundreds of thousands of hours last year.

In Glasgow, where Greens minister Patrick Harvie serves, enough sewage was dumped to fill 2,500 swimming pools. Disturbingly, these figures might be underestimates since Scottish Water only monitors a fraction of sewer overflow pipes.

Scotland’s waters are among its most treasured natural assets, and water companies, regulators, and politicians have a duty to keep them clean. This should be a wake-up call for ministers to take action and stop the sewage dumping in our rivers. Enough is enough.

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