FIFE parents and carers have been warned that a "substantial number" of schools are likely to close next week due to strike action from school staff.

Unite, Unison and GMB Scotland have all announced plans for the industrial action for next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday among janitors, cleaners, caterers, classroom assistants and administrative staff.

It follows their rejection of COSLA's latest pay offer last week.

In a letter to parents and carers, Fife education chief Shelagh McLean said they anticipated a "high level of participation" in the industrial action by affected union members.

She stated: "As you will appreciate, if this action goes ahead, we may need to make the difficult decision to close a substantial number of our Fife educational establishments to children, if not all establishments, on these days. Where this is the case your school/setting will notify you directly.

"I know this may be challenging or inconvenient for many families. I fully appreciate how difficult it is for parents, carers and pupils when we must do this, and I can only ask for your patience and understanding.

"Where a school setting is closed to children and young people, remote learning will be in place, with this being provided by class teachers over the three days."

Arrangements will be made regarding school meals and all schools are set to reopen on Friday, September 29.

After rejecting the pay offer, Unite the Union slammed COSLA for taking twenty-three weeks to offer the lowest paid council workers an extra 38p per week or £20 per year.

It said for those on the lowest pay, the revised offer represented an increase of only £0.01 per hour, effective from 1 January 2024.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: “It has taken COSLA five months to increase their offer by a measly 38 pence a week for the lowest paid council workers. Unite’s local government representatives rightly rejected this offer.

"The fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government goes on, and if needs be by strike action. Unite will back its members all the way.”

UNISON Scotland's head of local government, Johanna Baxter, said it was "deeply disappointing" to see the long-awaited offer contain such insignificant changes. "Members of our Local Government Committee this morning described this offer as insulting," she said. "It is staggering that COSLA have still not approached, and continue to refuse to approach, the Scottish Government for additional funding to make a meaningful improvement to the pay offer. "Given the state of local authority budgets we believe this to be a dereliction of the duty to stand up for local government and fight for the funding needed to both properly reward the local government workforce and keep our public services running.”

Keir Greenaway, GMB Scotland's senior organiser in public services, added: "Strike action is not something our members ever take lightly but, after a long, frustrating process, they have been left with no choice.

“This offer, like the previous offer, does not come close to maintaining the value of their wages as prices rise. It is far too little and far too late.

“Why should local authority workers in Scotland be offered less than in England? Why should they be asked to accept the unacceptable?

“If Cosla does not have the resource or the will to properly protect the wages of some of the country’s most important workers then the Scottish Government needs to intervene and intervene urgently.”

Responding to the rejection by the unions, COSLA’s Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Katie Hagmann, said: “I am doubly disappointed today, firstly with the rejection itself, but perhaps more importantly, with the fact that they did not take the revised offer to their membership for consideration.

“We have continued to conduct these negotiations in good faith and kept communication channels open at all times.

“We absolutely value all our Local Government Workforce and throughout these negotiations Council Leaders have re-iterated the value we place on the Workforce and the work that they do.

“That is why we enhanced an already strong offer yesterday, with Council Leaders going to the absolute limits of what Local Government can afford. The simple fact of the matter is that we have no more money available for pay without real cuts to jobs and services.

“Whichever way you cut it, this is a very strong offer in the financial climate we find ourselves. We have a duty to ensure that services are sustainable within the funding for pay we have available.

“We will continue to engage as positively as we can with the Trade Unions as strike action is in nobody’s interests.”