Strike action ahead as trade unions and East Dunbartonshire Council fail to reach agreement

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The leaders of East Dunbartonshire Council are preparing for more industrial action as unions rejected the latest deal they offered.

Trade unions Unison, Unite and the GMB, whose members comprise the majority of the council workforce, have agreed to go on strike on Wednesday, September 12, having refused the latest offer in a dispute which saw them walk out for four days in June. The dispute is over proposed changes to working conditions and pension schemes.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON regional organiser said: “Since July constructive talks between the council and unions has resolved issues on annual leave; overtime payments; unsocial hours payments. However UNISON members emphatically rejected the council’s latest pensions voluntary redundancy package, in a ballot.

“We held helpful talks on Wednesday, July 29 with East Dunbartonshire Council joint leaders Councillor Vaughan Moody and Councillor Andrew Polson. However we have still not resolved this final issue so we are now required to serve notice of further strikes and a continuing work to rule.

“The unions are ready to hold further talks to avoid further strikes and the disruption to service users. We are extremely close to a full settlement of all outstanding issues and hopefully the leadership of the council can complete the successful negotiating process with some urgency.”

Kenny Jordan of UNITE said: “Unite regret having to serve strike action notice, due to legal timeframes, however, Unite remain hopeful that continued constructive dialogue with the council can lay the way to minimise the disruption to our members and the public.”

Joint council leader Andrew Polson said: “Lengthy discussions have taken place over recent months and we are delighted that agreement has been reached on matters relating to terms and conditions, including no change to annual leave entitlement, no change to unsocial hours payments and no change to premium overtime rates.

“Our only outstanding issue relates to discretionary additional payments to employees who apply for voluntary redundancy or early retirement and discussions are continuing.”

Vaughan Moody is the other joint leader of the council. He added: “The reality of the financial climate means that the current discretionary elements of the redundancy payments framework is far beyond the national average and is not sustainable.

“Most other Councils in Scotland have made significant changes to reduce their policy over the past 2/3 years to ensure best value of the public pound. We have presented a revised enhanced proposal which we believe takes account of the financial impact of the level of additional discretionary payments that only some employees may ever benefit from.”

Neil McGrory , Local Democracy Reporting Service