Scottish council leaders impose revised pay deal

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Image caption The imposed deal for workers is less than the one previously rejected

Scotland's council leaders have decided to impose a three-year pay deal after a breakdown in talks with unions.

The deal, affecting about 150,000 staff, is significantly less generous than a recently rejected offer and could lead to industrial action.

The move will see staff receive a rise of 0.65% backdated to April, followed by pay freezes next year and in 2012.

Council body Cosla said the unions had put local authorities in an "impossible position".

But the country's biggest union, Unite, said low-paid workers were being neglected - while claiming it had never formally rejected the earlier pay offer.

Members of the three unions which represent most council staff, which also include Unison and GMB, had hit out at the previous deal, which would have given them a 1% increase this year, followed by a pay freeze next year and a 0.5% rise in 2012-13.

They had wanted a 3% pay rise this year or an increase of £600 for the lowest-paid workers.

Following a meeting of council leaders in Edinburgh, Cosla human resources spokesman Michael Cook said local authorities operating under tight budgets needed to plan ahead now.

He said: "We hugely value our hard-working employees, and on this basis made them an original offer which represented the absolute extremity of what councils could afford.

"We have tried everything we could to get the unions to realise the gravity of the financial pressures we face and our determination as far as possible to protect jobs and services.

"They have left us in an impossible position by failing to recognise the interests of their members. Councils are left with no option but to withdraw that offer and impose a settlement."

Deal 'unfair'

Unite's local government officer, Jackson Cullinane, said the union had been willing to consider a re-working of the earlier pay offer, but argued Cosla had now "chosen to move in a wholly negative direction".

"They have also slashed what was on offer for year one and have ignored the need to address the significant issue of low pay in Scottish local government," he said.

Mr Cullinane said the unions were open to further talks with Cosla, but warned: "They have, therefore, left us with no other option, but to consider consulting our members on potential industrial action in response to their imposition."

Unison's Stephanie Herd added: "Cosla has misrepresented the unions' negotiating position and has said they value employees, while kicking them in the teeth today.

"Imposing a deal is not the way to do pay bargaining and is totally unfair to hard working local government workers across Scotland."

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