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Scottish Water staff to hold four-day strike in November over pay dispute

By Philip Murray

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Scottish Water staff are to go on strike.
Scottish Water staff are to go on strike.

Employees of Scottish Water are to stage a four-day walkout next month in a pay and grading disupte with bosses.

The announcement comes after 78 per cent of employees who are members of the union Unison voted in favour of strike action.

The four-day strike begins on November 10.

Unison claims that Scottish Water is proposing changes to employment contracts "without properly engaging with unions" and this is causing anger among staff. It added that the changes could cause "years of wrangling" over pay grades and push the lowest paid onto even lower wages.

Related: Potential disruption ahead as Scottish Water prepares for strike action

Unison has also written to the cabinet secretary with responsibility for Scottish Water, Màiri McAllan MSP, to ask her to intervene in a last effort to avert industrial action.

The union says that the four-day strike will have "serious implications" for water and sewage services, with emergency repairs left undone and water quality checks put on hold.

Branch secretary for Unison's Scottish Water branch, Patricia McArthur said: “I am dismayed it has come to this. Scottish Water managers are imposing a new pay structure with no involvement from staff which is not acceptable. It is storing up problems for the future.

"Scottish Water is a public utility and supposed to be the jewel in our public services. Yet, staff are being treated worse than if we worked for one of the private water companies down south.”

Unison regional organiser Emma Phillips said: “Industrial relations in Scottish Water are at rock bottom. Scottish Water staff know sewage when they see it and have strongly rejected their employers slap dash proposals. However, Scottish Water are insisting they are still going to implement the changes to employment contracts and pay structures.

"We have written to the Scottish government asking the Cabinet secretary to, at very least, talk to unions to explore if we get meaningful talks started. We have stressed to her that Scottish Water are ripping up the government’s fair work and equality guidance.

"If the Scottish government don’t intervene then they have been warned that they are storing up problems over pay structures and future equal pay, and strikes will go ahead. Re-grading has to be done properly with the full involvement of staff and unions.”

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