FIFE schools could be hit with strike-related closures early in the new term after a ballot of school staff across Scotland was launched.

UNISON, the largest union in local government, has announced the industrial action ballot of 30,000 school staff in every local authority in Scotland.

The ballot is over a pay dispute for all council workers.

The vote will close on August 25 and they have warned that if staff vote to strike, there could be mass school closures across Scotland in September.

Earlier this year, UNISON consulted its entire local government membership (84,000) on COSLA’s pay offer.

This was a five per cent increase from April 2023, plus an additional increase that varied depending on an individual’s salary payable from January 2024. The union’s members voted overwhelmingly – by 87 per cent - to reject this.

Nine in ten of those who rejected the offer also voted in favour of taking some form of strike action to try to secure an improved wage increase.

UNISON Scotland head of local government, Johanna Baxter said: “COSLA’s offer falls short of UNISON’s pay claim, it is also less than the offer made to the lowest paid local government staff south of the border. And it would be a real-terms pay cut during the cost of living crisis.

“Despite efforts to move negotiations along, we’re now at an impasse. COSLA has refused to improve its pay offer, which UNISON members overwhelmingly rejected.

"It also says it doesn’t have the cash to offer more but is also refusing to ask the Scottish government for additional funding. “Council and school staff are fed up. All school staff should look out for their ballots, which will arrive in purple envelopes, vote and post back as soon as possible.”

A COSLA Spokesperson said as employers, council leaders have made a "strong offer" to the workforce. "A strong offer which clearly illustrates the value Councils place on their workforce, and it compares well to other sectors," said the spokesperson.

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

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

“It is an offer which recognises both the vital role of the people who deliver our essential services across Councils every day and the value that we, as employers, place on them. "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.”