INVERCLYDE Council leader Stephen McCabe says he is 'disappointed' by the decision of school support staff to go on strike in the district as part of a fight for more pay.

The Labour man insists that the local authority cannot improve on an offer of a marginal increase for low paid workers including cleaners, caterers, janitors and support assistants.

But outspoken councillor Colin Jackson hit back at the 'derisory' offer, adding: "These are  already some of the poorest paid local government workers and this offer is nothing short of insulting and will go nowhere near helping workers meet the cost of living crisis."

All primary and secondary schools in Inverclyde will be closed between September 26 and 28 as a result of the industrial action.Greenock Telegraph:

Councillor leader Stephen McCabe said that he had hoped the a new pay offer would halt the strike.

He told the Telegraph: "I am disappointed that we are facing further disruption to education because of support staff going on strike as this will impact negatively on young people and their parents and carers.

"I nevertheless respect the right of our staff to withdraw their labour if they feel that the pay offer on the table is not good enough.

"Councils across Scotland are under huge financial pressure and have already stretched themselves to the limit to afford the current pay offer.

"Council leaders did agree to make an additional sum of money available so that the pay offer could be marginally improved but were clear that we could not go any further without the Scottish Government providing us with extra funding.

"I would expect an improved offer to be made to the unions in the coming days and I hope they will suspend the strikes and put the offer to their members.”

Greenock Telegraph:

Unison said more than 21,000 members will take part in the co-ordinated action, they will be joined by members of Unite and GMB members.

The co-ordinated action will take place across 24 local authorities including Inverclyde, Glasgow, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire.

The dispute comes after high-profile teachers strike which caused months of disruption to schools across Scotland before it was resolved in March.

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School staff were previously offered 5.5 per cent, which was rejected.

Councillor Jackson said: "By doing nothing the Scottish government and COSLA have  allowed this dispute to escalate.

"With no improved offer from COSLA and the Scottish government sitting on their hands, strike action is the only option open to workers.

"I fully support their decision and can only hope that COSLA and the Scottish government see sense and make an improved offer."

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, said: “Going on strike is always a last resort – our members want to be in schools supporting children, not on picket lines outside them. But they have been left with no option."

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Cosla and the Scottish Government have been given warning after warning that strike action will be inevitable unless there is an improved pay offer.

“The entire blame for this situation is down to Cosla’s ineptitude, and the Scottish Government’s dithering.

“Unite’s hard working council members deserve far more than five per cent. They will have their union’s total support in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”