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Highland street cleaning and waste services could be disrupted by strike action this summer

By Federica Stefani

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Cleansing and waste workers in Highland could go on strike. Stock picture.
Cleansing and waste workers in Highland could go on strike. Stock picture.

Residents in the region could see their waste collection and recycling services impacted by a dispute over pay this summer.

Yesterday Unite, Scotland’s largest union, announced that it had a mandate for its members to take strike action in cleansing and waste services across half of Scottish councils.

Unite will reveal in the coming days the details of strike action involving waste workers, street cleaners, and recycling centre operators across 16 councils, which could begin in just over two weeks’ time.

This comes after the announcement that strike action could impact major events, including the Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “After years of cuts to council pay and services, years of chronic underfunding and understaffing, our membership is saying no more. Enough. They have Unite’s unequivocal support in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions across Scottish local government.

“This comes after 2.2 per cent rise offer between April 1 and September 30, two per cent for a 12 month period (from October 2024 to the end of 30 September 2025) was rejected by Unite, whose representatives said this was “nothing but an attempt to kick the can down the road.”

Keir Greenaway, GMB senior organiser, said: “GMB Scotland’s members in waste services in 13 councils have achieved a mandate for strike action in their dispute over pay, including in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Fife, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Orkney Islands, Perth and Kinross, and Stirling.

"GMB intends to reballot members in Highland Council."

A spokesperson for Highland Council confirmed: "The Council has received confirmation from the union Unite that the ballot of their members in waste and recycling services on the current above inflation pay offer of 2.2 per cent increase from 1/4/24 with a further 2 per cent increase from 1/10/24 until 30/9/25 has been rejected.

“This ballot gives a mandate for Unite to call out their members in these specific service areas.

“The ballot undertaken by GMB of their waste and recycling staff has not resulted in a mandate for strike action in the Highlands.

“The outcome of UNISON ballot is expected mid-July. The impact on waste services will not be known until the outcome of the UNISON ballot is available and further information is received from Unite the union.

“The council will keep members of the public informed of any temporary disruption strike action may have to service delivery."

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