A union has warned of risk to public health and safety if a pay dispute between Scottish Water and its workers escalates to strike action.
It comes ahead of ballots later this week, during which 500 Unite members and 1,000 Unison members will vote on potential strike action.
The trade unions say this is in response to Scottish Water’s decision to issue a new pay structure, and claim the company is offering a below-inflation pay rise.
Unite has said that due to key roles its members undertake on the frontline in sewers, water treatment centres and on pipework, any future strike action would “directly impair” Scottish Water’s ability to respond to water leakages, flooding, pollution and quality concerns.
The 500 workers will be balloted from August 18 on whether to accept or reject the new pay structure, and ask if they are willing to take strike action over wages.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Scottish Water bosses are treating the workforce and recognised trade unions with total contempt. There are long-standing processes in place for discussing the jobs, pay and conditions of the workforce.
“This can’t be burst open just because there are new people in the boardroom with exorbitant salaries. It’s unacceptable and Unite will challenge this head-on.”
Stephen Deans, Unite regional coordinating officer, added: “Scottish Water bosses are trying to force through a new grading structure without consulting the trade unions.
“To make matters worse, the new structure is being directly tied to this year’s pay offer. On every front it just stinks.”
“The new chief executive, Alex Plant, is just in the door but already he seems content with annihilating the working relationship which the trade unions have had in place for many years with Scottish Water.”
“If it comes to strike action, then there is no doubt that, due to the key role our members undertake on the frontline, it would have a major impact on Scotland’s waste and water treatment services.”