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Strike action by Scottish Water staff will go ahead, Unison confirms

By Philip Murray

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Scottish Water staff will begin four days of strikes on Friday.
Scottish Water staff will begin four days of strikes on Friday.

Four days of strike action by Scottish Water staff will begin as planned tomorrow (Friday) over a pay dispute, the union Unison has confirmed.

Members were balloted last month, with 78 per cent voting in favour of strike action.

Unison says the four-day strike, from November 10 to 13, will have "serious implications" for water and sewage services – emergency repairs will not be done, water quality checks will not take place and, if the public report problems with their water supply, sewage or drainage, it says they will not be dealt with while staff are on strike.

Related: Scottish Water staff to hold four-day strike in November over pay dispute

Related: Potential disruption ahead as Scottish Water prepares for strike action

Related: Highland wild swimmers should be warned about polluted water

The dispute comes after Scottish Water refused to give its staff a pay rise unless they agreed to a new pay and grading proposal that Unison argues will see the earnings of the lowest paid staff drop by up to £5000.

It also claims that the pay and grading proposal was not negotiated with unions and its "catastrophic implications" are causing anger among staff. The union says the proposals will cause years of wrangling over pay grades and push the lowest paid onto even lower wages and cause significant problems around equality legislation.

Branch secretary for Unison's Scottish Water branch, Patricia McArthur, said: “Strike action is always a last resort, but Scottish Water managers are imposing a new pay structure with no involvement from staff, which is not acceptable. It is storing up problems for the future.

“It seems that Scottish Government’s Fair Work and equality commitments don’t matter in our biggest and most precious public asset. We need urgent intervention from the Scottish government to talk with unions and get meaningful talks started.”

Unison regional organiser Emma Phillips said: “Scottish Water truly are a rogue employer. Our strong ballot result shows the strength of feeling among our members, who have overwhelmingly rejected the employer’s slap dash proposals.

“Despite this, Scottish Water are insisting they are still going to implement the changes to employment contracts and pay structures.

“Scottish Water is ripping up the government’s fair work and equality guidance and it’s just not good enough – our members deserve better.

“If the Scottish government don’t intervene, then they have been warned that they are storing up problems over pay structures and future equal pay. Re-grading has to be done properly with the full involvement of staff and unions.”

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