Joiners, bricklayers, painters and electricians strike over council pay

Unite claims West Lothian Council has refused to apply arrangements that ensure pay progression for craft workers.

West Lothian joiners, bricklayers and electricians strike over council pay STV News

Around 300 craft workers in West Lothian have staged a walk out in a dispute over pay with the local council.

The dispute centres on money owed to the workforce following a 2007 agreement covering trades people employed by local authorities and outsourced workplaces who maintain council buildings and housing, Unite the union said.

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 are 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 took place on Tuesday, and further action is expected on Wednesday and Thursday followed by a further two days of action on January 3 and 4.

The latest walk out comes after members previously walked out in October.

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: “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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