This August's Scottish-based UCI Cycling World Championships could be hit by council strike action, with a union warning that the event could be "under threat of cancellation" unless a pay dispute with local authorities is resolved.
Releasing a statement warning that such major events as the world championships could be impacted in the case of strike action, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the 5 per cent pay rise offer, rejected by its members, needs to be "significantly improved" as the trade union is "actively preparing" to ballot its local government membership on strike action.
New First Minister Humza Yousaf has been asked to intervene following a collapse in negotiations with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' (COSLA), an act Yousaf's predecessor Nicola Sturgeon took last year to end a previous pay dispute, that action bringing the lowest-paid council employees a 10 per cent pay rise and ending widespread industrial action.
Condemning "the behaviour by COSLA" at a meeting of the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) held on 30 May 2023, Mrs Graham said: "The Scottish Government needs to intervene because COSLA for the second year in a row seems utterly incapable of sorting out a fair pay offer. The reality is that the current 5 per cent offer needs to be significantly improved or we will have no choice but to ballot our members on strike action. Unite will always stand up for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government, and just like last year in the end we will win for our members."
A COSLA spokesperson insisted to the BBC that the 5 per cent offer "recognises the cost-of-living pressures on our workforce and, critically, it seeks to protect jobs and services".
However, in response, Keir Greenaway, a GMB Scotland union senior organiser for public services, said its members were "suffering through an unprecedented cost of living crisis but have been offered a rise that is less than last year".
"Given COSLA is unwilling or unable to offer a fair pay rise or ask ministers to intervene, we have been left with no choice but to ask our members if they are willing to take industrial action in support of our claim.
"They are suffering through an unprecedented cost of living crisis but have been offered a rise that is less than last year, despite the cost of living being even higher, and less than is being offered to council workers in England and Wales."
Commenting on the collapse of talks, the Scottish government urged all parties to "work together constructively" to reach an agreement and stressed it has no formal role in local government pay negotiations.
The build-up to this summer's UCI Cycling World Championships returning to UK soil, the first time all disciplines' annual worlds events will be held simultaneously in one location, has not been without concerns for the smooth running of the two-week-long event.
In February, a Glasgow cyclist raised the alarm over "dangerous" potholes on the road race routes, suggesting that unless fixed the event "may be remembered for all the wrong reasons".
"Kilometre after kilometre, the whole course is like this. Very dangerous in a peloton. Is there enough time and money to fix them?" he told road.cc.
While responsibility for maintaining roads will fall to cash-strapped councils — already suffering shortfalls of between £7 million and £120 million — we contacted the UCI to ask if they are aware of planned road improvements ahead of the event in early August.
We were told the pictures and concerns would be passed on to the Local Organising Committee "responsible for ensuring safe conditions at their event and for following the UCI regulations".
"Please know that the safety of cyclists is an absolute priority for the UCI and we work with all stakeholders of professional road cycling towards the common objective of delivering safe race conditions," a UCI spokesperson said.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.