New ballot over council pay deal

COUNCIL services could again face serious disruption if union members vote against a revised pay offer in the long-running wages dispute.

Union members are to decide whether to accept a three per cent pay offer this year followed by 2.5 per cent in 2009.

The revised offer was tabled by employers Cosla in the that hope future strikes by council workers can be averted.

Unison spokesman Brian Smith said a ballot would be running until next month when a result would be declared.

“The result of the ballot will bring either more industrial action or an acceptance of the offer. As yet we don’t know what is going to happen.”

However the GMB union, which is also balloting its members, is recommending the offer be rejected.

Its senior organiser for public services, Alex McLuckie, said the offer represented a cut in living standards.

“Inflation has risen above five per cent and the forecast for 2009 is averaging at an inflation rate of 3.2 per cent.”

A Cosla spokesman said the offer was the best possible one for public sector workers, and he criticised union leaders for recommending the offer be turned down.

“We’re very disappointed they’ve seen fit to recommend rejection. We don’t think that’s a realistic or sensible recommendation from the trade union. We’ve moved considerably from our original offer of 2.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent and now three per cent this year.

“We’ve taken our mandate to the absolute limit. It is absolutely the best offer we can make to the public sector this year, especially when every economic commentator is suggesting inflation will be below 2.5 per cent next year.”

Services in Shetland were disrupted in August when an estimated 1,200 members of staff walked out over a below-inflation annual wage increase of 2.5 per cent for three years.

A month later saw workers on strike again, this time turning down the same offer over one year instead of three.

Both occasions saw inter-island ferry services cancelled and the majority of schools remain closed for the day, while a smattering of other services also ground to a halt.


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