STRIKES that could have forced schools in Clackmannanshire to close next week have been called off.

GMB members across 10 council areas, including the Wee County, were due to take industrial action next Wednesday and Thursday, September 13 and 14.

These members were essential school staff excluding teachers and would have seen janitors and cleaners among those at the picket line.

This would affect catering staff, pupils support and administration workers in schools and early years centres affected.

The strikes have been put on hold as talks over a new pay deal continue, with councils preparing a new offer.

This could be just a temporary act of goodwill, however, as if a new pay deal is not negotiated, GMB members will join Unison and Unite in striking within weeks.

The three unions previously rejected an average pay increase of 5.5 per cent, which would see the lowest earners be paid an extra 99p per hour.

Keir Greenaway, senior organiser in public services, said: “We wanted to give parents, children and local authorities as much clarity around our plans as possible.

“We had served notice for two days of strike action this month but as our sister unions cannot join us on these dates, these have been withdrawn and we are actively discussing joint action later in the month.

“Cosla has the opportunity to avert that action if they can offer our members a fair pay rise and we can only urge them to take that opportunity.”

Clackmannanshire was set to join Aberdeen, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Orkney, Renfrewshire and South Ayrshire in industrial action next week.

Unison members in 24 of the 32 council areas voted to strike, as did Unite members in 10 areas though neither union had confirmed dates for the industrial action.

The new pay offer from Cosla is expected next week and if it is deemed not good enough, strike action is still likely within the next couple weeks.