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WATCH: UNISON members in schools across Inverness begin strike action in dispute over pay

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Hundreds of local government workers from UNISON have reluctantly walked out on strike after an ongoing dispute over pay.

Many UNISON members from schools across Inverness have formed picket lines this morning in aid of raising their wages from a proposed £11.89 to £15 per hour. Local government school workers, ranging from cleaners to pupil support have said that with the current cost of living crisis, they are simply not paid enough and "deserve more".

Support the support staff. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Support the support staff. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Whilst many other unions have suspended strike action, UNISON continues to 'fight for what they deserve' and have encouraged all the unions to be 'united together, rather than belittling one another'.

One UNISON member said: "We deserve to be paid more money as our pay rise and subsequent offer of improvement just wasn't enough and no where near meets inflation.

"I think we're worthy of more, especially for the work that we do."

Unison members and Inshes Primary Staff. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Unison members and Inshes Primary Staff. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Another member said: "We're just asking for fair pay! The offer that we have got is really low and we need a fair pay in line with the cost of living."

The schools where picket lines are in Inverness are Millburn Academy, Culloden Academy, Charleston Academy and Inshes Primary.

The majority of Highland schools are closed today, tomorrow and on Thursday, but 27 schools are open.

Many of the members participating in the strike action are parents themselves and have said that online learning and support has been made available for parents and pupils that may have been affected by the recent disruption.

A UNISON member outside Inshes Primary said: "A lot of us are parents, so this isn't a short term action, this is for their future and for our children to allow them to get a decent pay when they are older.

"This is a long term game."

Unison members and Inshes Primary Staff. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Unison members and Inshes Primary Staff. Picture: James Mackenzie.

UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter, said: "Both Cosla and the Scottish government had months to get their act together. Both have failed parents, pupils and staff miserably.

"Not a single school employee wants to walk out, but what has been offered is substantially short of what's needed."

He continued: "They should give school staff a decent pay rise, fund any increase properly and commit to a timetable for implementing a minimum rate of pay of £15 per hour for all local government workers."

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