THE largest union in local government in Scotland has said its members could take strike action over a pay offer that it describes as “miles away” from what staff could accept.

Unison officials will meet on Thursday to decide whether to ballot members for strike action over the latest pay offer from Cosla, which is involved in setting salaries for local government employees.

It comes as a new report from Audit Scotland found that local councils are facing a multi-million pound funding gap, with services struggling to meet demand.

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Officials at the union are unhappy with the delay in a formal offer being made, saying they had been expecting to receive this last week but have now been told it could take until the last week in May.

Union officials also describe the prospective pay offer of 2% or 39p per hour, as set out in a letter from Cosla, as “another real-terms pay cut” which council staff are unlikely to accept.

The National: A Unison union flag

Unison local government lead David O’Connor said: “Unison’s local government committee will meet tomorrow to decide whether we ballot our members for strike action. Local government workers are getting very frustrated with the delays.

“The figures quoted by the employer are miles away from anything staff are likely to accept, it is asking council workers to take another real-terms pay cut, which is unacceptable.

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“No one wants a repeat of last year’s disruption but it’s been made abundantly clear that staff cannot wait for months to get a fair pay offer.”

A spokesperson for Cosla said: “Learning from the last few years, we are working hard to maintain a dialogue with our Scottish Joint Council trade unions partners, whilst we explore all avenues – this includes a third meeting next week.

“As our trade unions know, we are very close to making an offer, based on the mandate given by council leaders. We are doing all that we can to get the best possible offer on the table.

“It is important to reiterate that this is against the context of a flat cash settlement from Scottish Government, which leaves very little room to manoeuvre without service reductions and job losses which we want to avoid at all costs.”