Craft workers to walk out amid pay dispute with 'Scrooge' council

Unite claims West Lothian Council has refused to apply arrangements that ensure pay progression for those who have undertaken additional tasks.

Unite craft workers at West Lothian Council to walk out amid pay dispute iStock

Around 300 craft workers will walk out again next week in a dispute over pay with a “Scrooge” council, a union has said.

Unite claims money is owed to the workforce and said the dispute centres on a 2007 agreement covering craft workers employed by local authorities and outsourced workplaces who maintain council buildings and housing.

The union claims West Lothian Council has refused to apply arrangements that ensure pay progression for craft workers who have undertaken, and continue to undertake, additional tasks which they entitled to under the terms of the agreement.

The deal covers a range of trades including joiners, plasterers, bricklayers, labourers, painters, and electricians.

Strike action will take place on December 19, 20 and 21 followed by a further two days of action on January 3 and 4, and comes after members previously walked out in October.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “West Lothian Council is digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself. Not only is it refusing to pay our members for the additional tasks carried out, but now they have also chosen to delay a pay increase in time for Christmas.

“Unite’s craft members will have their union’s full support in the fight to have their jobs, pay and conditions respected by this Scrooge council as they begin their latest rounds of strike action.”

The union also claimed West Lothian Council has said it will not be including the Scotland-wide Cosla craft workers’ pay increase in the December pay run, citing a lack of time for processing the payments.

Graeme Turnbull, Unite industrial officer, said: “Around 300 craft workers will resume strike action due to West Lothian Council’s callous behaviour.

“Instead of trying to resolve this dispute, the council has decided to pour petrol on the flames of our members’ anger by also delaying a well-deserved pay increase.

“We are talking about significant sums of money for workers and their families which is being unfairly delayed and denied to them.

“Our members have no choice but to take strike action because this stingy council seems incapable of having any festive feelings.”

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We value the important role carried out by our craft workers, and ensure they receive comparable wages and conditions to similar workers in their sector in return.

“We have honoured all our responsibilities under the craft agreement, and do not agree with Unite’s claims for backdated payments.

“We also completely refute the claim that we have sought to delay any backdated payments. If Unite agreed to the national local government pay agreement at the same time as the other trade unions, payment would have been made this month. 

“Unite were advised of this position at the time that this would mean their members would miss the cut-off for December payroll, which is earlier than normal to allow staff to be paid before Christmas. The delay in their members not receiving the back pay this month rests solely with Unite.

“All backdated wages for the national pay award for all workers concerned will be paid in full in January.”

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