STRIKE preparation may begin as early as next week as tension increases over local government pay talks, a union has said.

Unison, the union representing 85,000 council workers, has accused local government body Cosla of “learning nothing” from significant industrial action that closed several schools across Scotland last year.

The union said staff were due a cost-of-living pay increase in April after a claim was submitted to Cosla in January.

The pay claim by the union asked for an above one-year inflation increase for those on the lowest wages, on top of the previously agreed plan to introduce the minimum rate to £15 per hour by 2026.

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It also asked for a 7% increase for all pay scales, or a £1.60 increase to the hourly rate, whichever is greater.

However, it is understood the union has yet to get a response.

David O’Connor, Unison’s local government organiser, addressed the pay dispute as he said: “Cosla has to understand the growing anger among local government workers over how they are treated year after year in pay negotiations.

“It is no wonder local government workers are left feeling disappointed and frustrated when their employers haven’t even bothered to respond to the pay claim.

“Without investment in the local government workforce there will be no public services – Cosla must recognise local government workers for the vital services they provide and ensure they are fairly rewarded.”

Last year, schools in several parts of the country closed over the pay dispute before it was eventually resolved.

Colette Hunter, the union’s local government chair, said: “It would appear that Cosla has learned nothing from last year’s pay dispute which resulted in school closures across Scotland.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is take strike action, but if Cosla continue to ignore our pay claim then we may be left with no choice.

“While strike action is always a last resort, our local government committee is currently considering all options and preparations for strike action could begin as early as next week.”

Cosla has been asked for comment.