Scotland politics

MSPs' staff could ballot for industrial action over pay rise

Scottish Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

MSPs' staff could ballot for industrial action over a threat of a "real terms" cut to their pay, according to a union.

Communications staff, researchers and caseworkers who are directly employed by MSPs could be affected.

The Scottish Parliament's corporate body is due to decide on the staff budget allocated to MSPs next month.

It is expected to rise by 1.4% despite the Scottish government's commitment to a 3% pay rise for public sector workers.

However, this does not cover MSPs' staffers because they are not employed directly by the public sector.

GMB Scotland said the plans were a "farce".

Every MSP is allocated a budget which is enough to employ about three members of staff.

'A bit demoralised'

However, it is up to them how many staffers they employ and how much they are paid, within a pay scale which is set for each role by the Scottish Parliament.

Some MSPs may be able to afford to give their staff a bigger pay rise, whilst others may only be able to afford 1.4%.

The budget increase decided by the parliament's corporate body is based on a survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

One staffer told BBC Scotland the 1.4% uplift was "quite disappointing", adding that he had hoped for a 3% pay rise in line with what many public sector employees are set to receive.

He added: "We're not poorly paid, but we work long hours and it's not a 9-5 job - this has left a lot of us feeling a bit demoralised."

"We get a fair deal, but not every MSP's as understanding as mine is."

'Collectively bargain'

The union has called a meeting for its members who work for Labour MSPs next week to "step up plans to fight the cuts".

GMB Scotland organiser Keir Greenaway said: "MSP staff are on the frontline of Scottish democracy, providing the vital link between the public and our elected representatives in Holyrood.

"What is the point in the Scottish government setting a pay policy if the MSPs that agree it can't pay it to their own staff?

"What this farce clearly demonstrates is that MSP staff need to be able to collectively bargain on their own pay and conditions.

"We'll be meeting with our members to agree next steps, but the corporate body should be in no doubt - if they push ahead with plans to cut staff pay we will ballot for industrial action".

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said: "The SPCB are due to consider changes to the Staff Cost Provision for the upcoming financial year next month."