The latest pay claim submitted by a leading trade union will help take low paid workers out of workplace poverty according to a Glasgow GMB convenor. 

Chris Mitchell of the GMB branch 40 says he is hopeful that within the next few years staff represented by the various trade unions will be earning £15 per hour after GMB Scotland submitted a pay claim for workers to earn an extra £1.50 an hour this year. 

The public service union has also called for a “new urgency” in pay talks after lodging this year’s claim with council leaders. 

The GMB has submitted a document to COSLA ahead of its meeting on Friday which also asks for an agreement for every council employer to pilot a reduction in the working week with no loss of pay within 2024/25.

Their demands include an increase of the Distant Islands Allowance, which was introduced as an incentive to encourage qualified, trained, professional staff to relocate from the mainland to islands, of £459 and a review of holiday entitlement protocols for part-time and full-time staff. 

The union says its claim for an extra £1.50 an hour would ensure more than half the workforce receives a rise above 10% with four in five getting at least 7.5%.

It said the lowest paid workers deserve the biggest rises but said the claim would mean almost every council worker getting a rise of more than 5%, the projected rate of inflation in 2024.

Chris Mitchell, Glasgow GMB convenor, said: “I think we have been quite successful in the last couple of years in bringing low paid workers a pay rise that is kind of decent. 

“I hope that continues while we are on the road to achieving an hourly rate of £15 per hour. And if we continue on this path I think we could achieve that over the next two years.

“The cost of living is still going up. Food prices are going up and our workers are only beginning to afford certain things. At the end of the day they are still low paid workers. 

“We have got to continue to take low paid workers out of workplace poverty. If we continue on this path – I think we can achieve that within the next few years.”

However, GMB is also calling for interest to be charged on backdated pay in a bid to ensure a greater urgency from council leaders. Staff in some local authorities are still waiting for the rise agreed last year.

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland senior organiser in public services, said pay negotiations took far too long in 2023 and said Cosla must engage with unions with more speed and decisiveness.

He said: “It is clearly unacceptable that our members in some councils have still to receive a rise that was agreed last year but it sums up everything that is wrong with the pace of these negotiations.

“Council must no longer sit on money due to workers struggling to make ends meet and, if they do, they should pay interest. Perhaps that will focus their attention.

“After last year’s needlessly long and protracted process, we have put in a claim for the pay rise our members deserve at the earliest opportunity. We do not want to waste a day.

“There is no excuse for all the wasted weeks and months in our negotiations with Cosla.

“It is frustrating for those involved in the talks but far more frustrating for the workers who deserve pay rises to be agreed fairly and with as much urgency as possible.

“We want our members’ money in their bank account as soon as possible and will discuss our members’ pay claim any time, anywhere. Cosla needs to show that same urgency.”

UNISON Scotland has been consulting with its members before submitting its pay claim.  Head of local government Johanna Baxter said: “UNISON is by far the largest union in local government and we are consulting our 90,000 local government members before we submit our pay claim in advance of COSLA’s first meeting of 2024 at the end of this month.

We will submit our claim in conjunction with our other sister unions and look forward to COSLA dealing with it timeously to avoid any repeat of previous years’ lengthy, drawn-out, talks which have delayed settlements for our members.”

Unite the Union said they would not be commenting at this time.  COSLA has been approached for comment.