SHETLAND will escape a course of intensified industrial action when council call centre staff walk away from their desks in protest over a wage deal.
The week-long strike, due to take place across Scotland’s main local authorities from next Monday, has been designed to step up the pressure on employers Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) for a more attractive pay package.
Because the isles have no call centres, services here will not be disrupted, but other services will be picked out for selective action if an agreement cannot be reached following the strike.
Last week ferry services were severely disrupted by a 24-hour strike on Wednesday.
The majority of schools also remained closed for the day, and other services were widely affected.
Union members walked out for the second time in a month over a proposed three year pay offer of 2.5 per cent.
With inflation sitting just below five per cent, workers say the deal is unfair on council staff and their families.
Unison’s Shetland representative Brian Smith said future strike action could be avoided if Cosla was willing to offer a better deal.
“Unison have sent a letter to Cosla. They say they want to meet us, so let’s meet. It’s not inconceivable that there might be some movement in the next week or so.”
Meanwhile, last week’s strike means council staff are facing a 24-hour delay in their salary payments.
Staff on the monthly payroll expecting to see their pay come in on Tuesday will now not be paid until Wednesday.
SIC head of finance Graham Johnston said the strike had brought about a “considerable extra workload” for payroll staff, as pay deductions had to be worked out for striking workers.
The fact that most payroll staff were themselves on strike has meant there is less time for employees to complete a higher workload.
“We alerted staff to this as quickly as we could, and we also contacted banks who have shown a willingness to be sympathetic and understanding of folk with standing orders and direct debits.”