SCHOOL staff - including janitors, cleaners and pupil support teams - could go on strike in the new term unless there is a breakthrough at last-ditch talks tomorrow (Wednesday, August 2).

One union is warning it could lead to “mass school closures” in September.

GMB Scotland members working in schools and early years education have overwhelmingly rejected a pay offer.

Results of a ballot announced today (Tuesday, August 1) reveal the union’s staff in almost a third of Scotland’s local authorities, including Glasgow, have backed industrial action.

The news comes as Glasgow parking staff prepare to walk out in support of the pay claim this week, with the strike threatening to disrupt elite cycling championships. Workers could form a picket line at the Emirates arena, where track events will take place.

More than 8000 GMB members in Scotland’s councils voted on industrial action after Cosla, representing local authorities, refused to revise its offer.

The union, which represents more than 21,000 workers across Scotland’s 32 councils, said cleaning, janitorial, catering and pupil support services in schools and early years have now voted to strike across ten council areas after rejecting an offer that was far below inflation.

The ballot came after 94% of the GMB Scotland’s members rejected the pay offer of 5.5% as “clearly unacceptable when food prices have risen by almost 20%."

Schools return later this month, and any action will take place in the new term. Other trades unions are also balloting council staff, including UNISON, which announced on Tuesday it had launched a ballot of 30,000 school staff in every local authority in Scotland.

Glasgow Times: School staff, including janitors and catering workers, could go on strike next term.School staff, including janitors and catering workers, could go on strike next term. (Image: Newsquest)

A spokesperson for UNISON said the vote would close on Friday, August 25, and “if staff vote to strike there could be mass school closures across Scotland in September.”

GMB Scotland senior organiser for public services Keir Greenaway said: “It is no surprise that our members are prepared to strike rather than accept an offer that is less than last year despite the costs of living being even higher.

“Our members have now spoken and Cosla should listen and arrive tomorrow with a fair offer and seize what is the final opportunity to avert industrial action.

“Whether it is our members voting to strike in schools or those in parking who will take action within days, council workers are sick of being overworked and undervalued.

“It is time for political leaders to show some leadership.”

The talks with Cosla tomorrow come as parking staff at Glasgow City Council prepare to strike for a better offer as the UCI Cycling World Championship begins in the city. The industrial action by GMB and other unions on Thursday and Friday threatens to disrupt the ten-day event.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “Local government pay negotiations are conducted nationally through Cosla, not by individual local authorities.

“However, Glasgow City Council’s political leadership has made it clear - as it did last year - that it supports a strong settlement that works for both our staff and for public services.”

A COSLA Spokesperson said: “The reality of the situation is that as employers, council leaders have made a strong offer to the workforce, which clearly illustrates the value councils place on their workforce, and it compares well to other sectors.

“It recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and critically, it seeks to protect jobs and services.”

He added: “While the offer value in year is 5.5%, the average uplift on salaries going into the next financial year is 7%.  Those on the Scottish Local Government Living Wage would get 9.12% and those at higher grades, where Councils are experiencing severe recruitment challenges, would see 6.05%.

“Crucially, it also raises the Scottish Local Government Living Wage by 99p to £11.84 per hour and sets out a commitment to work with our Trade Unions to develop a road map to £15 per hour in a way that protects our workforce and services we deliver.”