Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

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Scotland’s former first minister has stood in solidarity with school staff on strike amid a row over pay.

Nicola Sturgeon joined a picket line of Unison members outside the Royal Mile Primary School in Edinburgh on Thursday.

The MSP was walking down the street when she was beckoned over by the striking staff.

Unison said Ms Sturgeon had stood and spoken with the workers and had wished them “the best of luck”.

Sharron Macaulay, who was among the workers outside the school, took a photograph of Ms Sturgeon with the staff.

She said: “It was great to see Nicola this morning, she was very friendly.

“I hope she didn’t feel ambushed, as we shouted her over from the other side of the street.

“But she didn’t have to come over or have her photo taken with us, we are delighted she did, and she wished us all the best of luck.

“I just hope she still has some influence in government to get Humza [Yousaf] around the table to help settle this dispute.”

Many schools across Scotland remain shut for the third consecutive day as non-teaching staff continue their action.

Unison Scotland posted on Twitter: “Solidary from former first minister Nicola Sturgeon to Unison Edinburgh members of their day three picket line.

“But where is Humza Yousaf? Wind rain or shine, we stand together for fair pay.”

School support staff members of Unison during a rally outside the Scottish parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Essential school staff including cleaners, janitors and support workers have been locked in a pay dispute, with a new offer estimated to cost �580 million. Picture date: Wednesday September 27, 2023.
Image:
Demonstrators at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday

Staff on strike includes janitors, cleaning staff, kitchen workers and class assistants.

Strikes went ahead after Unison rejected a proposed pay increase from COSLA, which the union deemed inadequate.

Unison Scottish secretary Lilian Macer described the pay offer as “too little, too late and too vague”, and she challenged first minister Mr Yousaf to come outside and speak to workers at the rally.

Read more:
Unison members begin three days of industrial action

Hundreds of support staff attend rally outside Scottish Parliament

A Scottish government spokesperson said earlier on Thursday: “We have worked constructively in partnership with COSLA and councils to find a solution, facilitated by an additional £80m of funding and flexibility from the Scottish government.

“We have ensured there will be no detrimental impact on jobs or services, including on Pupil Equity Funding levels or operation of the redress scheme, as a result of this additional funding.

“Despite UK government cuts, the Scottish government had already provided £155m in 2023-24 to support a meaningful pay rise for local government workers, and provided assurances over funding in 2024-25.

“Scottish government and COSLA will continue to work together to minimise disruption for all affected areas.

“Affected local authorities will ensure that schools and learning establishments remain open as far as is practical, taking into consideration staffing levels and individual establishment risk assessments.”

A spokesperson for COSLA previously said the latest pay offer was “very strong” and “equates to 10% or £2,006 for the lowest paid at the request of the trade unions”.

They added: “Throughout these negotiations we have met every request of our trade union colleagues.”

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