Equal pay deal agreed

An improved pay offer for council workers has been given the green light by councillors, following strong support from union mem­bers.

Councillors endorsed the single status offer when they met at the Town Hall on Wednesday – just days after public services union Unison voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals.

The Unison vote – 90 per cent were in favour – came after similar votes by the GMB (92 per cent) and TGWU/Unite (91 per cent).

The council has been involved in negotiations with union chiefs for two years since a previous offer was rejected in 2007.

Unison branch chairman Brian Smith said the development was a huge step forward for local authority workers in the isles. Single status would result in fairer wages for female workers in particular, many of whom have been underpaid in the past.

“The council has invested heavily in the new pay scheme with the result that the pay gap between women and men has been narrowed,” Mr Smith said. “It has been a long slog but we are delighted to have achieved this outcome with the overwhelming support of members.

“In 2007, the council put forward an appalling offer to staff. It didn’t deliver equality for women and more than 1,000 people were going to lose money. It was thanks to the members of Unison campaigning that this vastly improved offer was issued. “While it is still is regrettable that anyone is going to lose money the scale and the extent of this loss has been greatly reduced and we have a salary protection scheme to assist those facing difficulty. The council are going to give three years of preservation for these people.” SIC head of organisational development John Smith said the positive reaction showed the work carried out on single status had been well worthwhile.

“We now have a fair agreement with staff right across the council to take forward,” he said.

“I am very satisfied with this outcome, and have been very pleased by the positive approach from all parties in this exercise.

“I am convinced that council members, staff and management can use it as a model for tackling challenges that Shetland, and the council, will no doubt have in the future.”

Convener Sandy Cluness added: “I am very pleased that our new proposals have been supported so strongly by staff. I am aware of the enormous work that has gone into this project in the last two years, from the single status team, by unions, by council management and by staff.

“I would like to congratulate every­one involved on their achieve­ment. That hard work, the talking, the listening and the understanding has got us to the very satisfactory point we are at today.”


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