Scottish Water workers could go on strike after talks fail

Unions GMB, Unite and Unison have voted to take strike action after pay talks with the company failed.

Scottish Water workers could go on strike after talks fail Aristotoo via iStock

Workers at Scottish Water could go on strike after pay talks failed.

The publicly-owned utilities company has had the same pay structure for 21 years and has been designing a new one, but unions GMB, Unite and Unison have voted to strike after lodging objections.

After two days of talks with Acas failed, Scottish Water is now looking at minimising disruption if strikes go ahead.

Unison regional organiser Emma Phillips said bosses were “behaving like Victorian Mill owners”, after the results of a ballot.

Conciliation talks with unions ended without agreement over enhanced proposals on an annual pay award and a modernised pay and grading structure, to deliver an in-year wage rise of at least 8% for employees.

The proposals included a transformed grading structure which would offer clearer routes to future pay progression for the 4,000 employees.

The unions accused the utility firm of acting like a “rogue employer” after combining an annual pay offer with a restructuring of salaries and grades, which, they say, will limit the wages of many lower-paid workers in the years ahead.

A contingency planning management team at Scottish Water is looking at service requirements for any periods of industrial action.

Scottish Water’s chief operating officer, Peter Farrer, said: “We are bitterly disappointed at this outcome.

“We put what would by any measure, especially in a public sector context, be an exceptional proposal on the table, which had been improved during the course of negotiations.

“We have always wanted to do the right thing for our employees.

“We are also surprised this proposal isn’t being taken to union members which was something we requested happen.

“We now need to plan for a period of industrial action to ensure we can maintain services for our customers and do the right thing for them too.

“Planning for that scenario now is the responsible course of action.

“We are closely examining every aspect of our service which could be impacted.

“We will do so whilst remaining 100% committed to seeking agreement and a way forward which avoids industrial action.

“It is something we would always want to avoid.

“The door remains open to discussion and agreement despite the Acas process coming to an end.

“We do not want customers to experience any disruption to their supplies or services and will do all we can to minimise that risk.

“Maintaining public health and protecting the environment are key factors for us.

“We are working to do all that we can so we can make sure clean water supplies and effective waste water treatment services run to the high standard people in Scotland expect should we see any days of industrial action activity.”

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