Unison hails living wage consolidation deal for Island staff

Members of the local government staff union, Unison, have voted to accept a pay offer that will deliver a pay increase of 9.5 per-cent over the next three years, and local branch secretary, Alison MacCorguodale, has also welcomed agreements in the deal to ‘consolidate the living wage’ and for ‘parity of pay’ for local government workers.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 12:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 12:56 pm

The pay deal, which is backdated to 1 April 2018, will see staff receive an increase of 3.5 per cent this year, and 3 per-cent in each of the next two financial years.

Under the terms of the agreement, negotiations can be reopened if ‘another local government bargaining group’s total pay offer value is revised such that it becomes greater than the sum agreed between COSLA Employers and the SJC Trade Unions for the SJC workforce for the period of the agreement’.

Alison MacCorguodale said: “Whilst the offer does not make up for the impact years of austerity has had on local government pay, it is clear our members recognise that 9.5% over three years is the best that could be achieved by negotiation.

Sign up to our daily Stornoway Gazette Today newsletter

“It is reassuring to see a re-opener clause within the deal as Unison has consistently argued for parity of pay-rises across the local government workforce - we are after all, one team.

“I also welcome the commitment by the Employers’ Side to consolidate the Living Wage - this will make a real difference to a considerable proportion of the workforce here in the Western Isles.”

Councillor Gail Macgregor of COSLA, the organisation representing Scotland’s local authorities, said: “I am absolutely delighted with [the] announcement that Unison members have signalled their overwhelming support for this deal.

“This is a result of the determination on both sides to reach an agreement. We await the outcome of the other trade union ballots and look forward to moving on to the next stage in this negotiation.”

With the local government staff pay issue settled, unless negotiations are reopened, teachers’ union, The EIS, has opened a consultative ballot of its members on the latest pay offer.

The revised offer, based on a three year deal would give teachers a pay rise of 3 per-cent for each of the next three years, plus an additional 3 per-cent this year due to a reorganisation of staff grades. The offer was tabled by local authorities through the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT).

Last week, by majority decision, the EIS Council voted to recommend rejection of the offer and a move to a statutory ballot on industrial action.

Part of the revised offer to teachers came as a result of a Scottish Government Policy Intervention ‘in acknowledgement of recruitment and retention of teachers’, and as an additional part of the pay offer which will reorganise pay grades.

In a statement, COSLA stated that the Scottish Government ‘Top-up’ ‘adds additional further resource to the already substantive pay offer from COSLA of 3 per-cent in each of the three years up to March 2021’.

Councillor Gail Macgregor of COSLA said: “I am pleased that Council Leaders have today agreed to present a revised proposal incorporating the additional monies made available by the Scottish Government to the teaching unions.”

EIS members will now be balloted on the offer over the next 3 weeks, with the result expected to be announced on Friday 22 February.