By JOHN ROBERTSON
THE SIC’s long-running equal pay negotiations with staff will not now be settled this year, it has emerged. Even if all goes smoothly with the new revised offer issued later this month it is likely to be April 2009 before a deal can be implemented and back-pay dished out.
The latest delay was confirmed this week by SIC head of organisational development John Smith.
If the deal is eventually settled next year it will be nine years since the council started working on it and 10 years after the national single status agreement was signed between councils and the unions. The process is intended to iron out unfair discrimination caused by big variations in pay for similar work.
Letters of offer to staff revealing their new pay grades will go out after 21st October followed by a month of consultation to discover their reactions and those of the unions. The past 14 months has been spent working out ways to stop as many staff as possible having to take a wage cut.
Mr Smith said: “We’re out there with an overall package which we still think is going to be as good as anybody is being offered across Scotland and overall is a positive way to take this forward.”
There has already been a bad reaction from tradesmen who learnt last month the new proposed rates for most of them would actually be lower than those offered, and rejected, last year. The council is currently trying to address their concerns after they protested. T&G union shop steward Danny Lafferty said he could not comment at this stage because he was involved in negotiations.
The SIC is now among a minority of councils in Scotland which has failed to strike agreement with its staff. Mr Smith said around two-thirds had settled and by the end of the financial year it would be down to a handful of local authorities without a deal in place.
“We can’t carry on knowingly perpetuating unfair arrangements. That’s becoming a bigger and bigger legal risk for the council. We know we have to get this fixed.”
Over 4,000 full and part-time SIC workers have been affected by the single status negotiations but not the highest-paid management or teachers who have their own agreements. The eventual deal is expected to add as much as £4 million a year to the council’s already large £57m wages bill.