South Scotland

Scottish Borders Housing Association workers move closer to industrial action

Tradesmen employed by Scottish Borders Housing Association are moving closer to a ballot for industrial action.

A consultative vote found 80% of Unite members would support the move in a dispute over pay, equality of working conditions and working hours.

Regional officer Tony Trench said if "serious negotiations" did not start soon a formal ballot would be held.

SBHA said that as a not-for-profit organisation it had to balance Unite's requests with the needs of tenants.

Unite represents about 80 tradesmen and labourers employed by the association.

The union is pushing for an increase to the implemented 1.1% pay award, and for harmonisation of holidays and the working week across the association.

'Bit of respect'

It said that at the moment, the tradesmen worked a 37-hour week while some office staff worked 35 hours a week and also received an extra day's holiday per year.

The union is also pushing for recognition that travelling time for mobile workers constitutes working time.

"All our members want is fair pay, equality with other members of staff and a bit of respect for the work they do maintaining and repairing homes for people throughout the Scottish Borders," said Mr Trench.

SBHA said it had to weigh up the union's requests along with the needs of tenants, other employees and the future viability and competitiveness of property services.

It claimed that to put into place all of the union's requests would mean rents would have to be increased by 4% or significant cuts would have to be made in other services.

The association said it appreciated that might not be the response the union was seeking but they were keen to continue the process of "constructive communication."

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