SBC deal with unions will give job stability

A DEAL has been signed this week between Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and the Trades Unions which gives job stability for staff in an uncertain economic climate, a living wage for the lowest paid workers and also avoids increased pay costs.

SBC is the only local authority in Scotland to reach such an agreement to contain pay while protecting staff from compulsory redundancies for the next three years.

The agreement also introduces a Scottish Borders Living Wage of £7.15 for SBC employees, a move which has a particularly positive impact on low paid female workers including part-time staff.

Councillor David Parker, leader of SBC said: “I am delighted that by working together with the Trades Unions and our staff we have been able to secure this landmark deal. It demonstrates that if employers work together with Trades Unions and their employees, they can reach sensible agreements to help overcome the difficult financial challenges we face without having to look at more draconian measures proposed by some.

“We have now secured a financial deal that will save the council a significant sum in the years ahead but will also recognise the issues that are important to our workforce but above all else protect frontline services. I have no doubt that other local authorities in Scotland will follow our lead.”

As part of the deal, incremental pay progression for employees earning more than £21,000 per year will be suspended from April 1, 2011. Staff earning less than £21,000 per year will be entitled to their normal incremental progression in 2011/12, but this will be frozen for 2012/13.

The GMB, UNISON and Unite Unions balloted members employed by SBC on whether or not they would accept the deal on the table and all three unions delivered significant results in favour.

Councillor Alec Nicol, SBC depute leader (human resources) said: “The council needs to retain staff to deliver the highest possible standard of service. However, at the same time we have to evaluate ways of meeting the current financial challenges, which are affecting authorities across the country. With this in mind, I am delighted that the unions have agreed to back these plans and I would like to thank our loyal and committed staff for their co-operation. We can assure them there will be no compulsory job losses over the period of the deal.

“Trades Unions in the Scottish Borders deserve a great deal of credit for working with us to secure a strong economic future for Scottish Borders Council.”

Alex McLuckie, GMB Scotland’s senior organiser said: “This is good news for the employees of Scottish Borders Council. It meets the twin goals of job security and introducing a living wage and GMB welcomes the agreement.”

Douglas Black, regional organiser from UNISON commented: “This agreement offers a real degree of stability and security for our members given the current financial climate. It also goes some way to addressing one of UNISON’s priorities which is the eradication of low pay by the introduction of a minimum hourly rate of £7.15 which is a real boost for many of our low paid members.”

Eck Barclay, senior shop steward for Unite, added: “It is a lot to ask people to accept a total increment freeze when fuel and other essential items are rocketing in price, but I do believe it is a sacrifice worth making if jobs can be protected.”