By JOHN ROBERTSON
COUNCIL staff are in line for an equal pay deal described by chief executive Morgan Goodlad as “the best package offered anywhere in Scotland”.
Over 3,000 workers will receive letters in the next few days informing them what their pay and conditions will be if, as expected, they accept the proposed single status deal. Four weeks of consultation will follow and unions representing staff are then likely to ballot members for a decision.
The long-delayed offer has taken 18 months to hammer out since the unions rejected a previous proposal, aimed at ironing out unfair variations in pay for similar work. A major stumbling block has been how to avoid pain for staff members classed as “reds” who had been assessed as over-paid and faced pay freezes or significant changes to their duties.
This time around representatives of the three main unions have been working full-time on the project alongside council managers to overcome problems. There is also likely to be less appetite for rejecting another offer, given the gloomy economic outlook which has descended suddenly.
Mr Goodlad said the council was convinced the proposals provided the basis for a fair settlement and he hoped staff members would support it. The deal includes what he said was the “very considerable” investment of £4 million in extra staff pay.
As well as new pay grades and rates, the offer sets out new proposals on a standardised working week, overtime, anti-social hours payments, flexible working, increased holidays, pay protection and back-pay. Staff members will be given the chance to attend briefings and meetings with their managers who want their views on the proposals, either directly or through a questionnaire.
Around 600 members of the recently amalgamated union Unite are among those receiving letters. Branch secretary Alistair Christie-Henry said it was the culmination of long and sometimes protracted negotiations.
Earlier this month it emerged the deal would not be settled this year and it is likely to be April at the earliest before any new system can be implemented and back-pay dished out, making it nine years since work started on single status.
SIC convener Sandy Cluness said the new proposals were an important step in taking the council forward as an employer which promotes fairness and equality.
Single status does not apply to top management or teachers. Several other groups have been left out temporarily during negotiations because of particular difficulties, including nursery nurses, tugmen and other well-paid sea staff at Sella Ness.