Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Herald: Scottish Water workers begin strike

Herald Video: Scottish Water workers begin strike

Hundreds of workers from Scottish Water walked out today in a dispute over pay which could hit services across the country.

Unions leaders expect up to 2,000 staff to take part in the action across Scotland.

Workers started the 24-hour strike at midday in protest at a pay rise they claim is unfair.

But Scottish Water said it was "deeply disappointed" with the decision to strike. The company added contingency plans were in place to ensure normal services were maintained during the strike.

Dougie Black, a negotiator with Unison, said the strike action was going ahead because of the pay award and the manner in which it was imposed.

He said: "The employers imposed a pay award on our members this year and undermined the whole of the industrial relations machinery in Scottish Water.

"I hope the strike sends a really strong message to Scottish Water that our members are serious about winning a fair pay award this year.

"We want the employers to come back to the negotiating table and speak to us about how they can improve upon this offer."

Scottish Water staff from the Unison, Unite and GMB unions are involved in the action. They are angry about a pay rise from Scottish Water of 3% over 15 months.

Mr Black predicted the strike could cause disruption for customers.

"For the 24 hours the strike is taking place, Scottish Water services are going to be affected," he said.

"There won't be responses to individual incidents such as burst pipes."

He added if there was a "significant public health risk", union members would be asked to respond.

He added: "I hope Scottish Water customers understand clearly why we need to take this action."

Peter Farrer, Scottish Water's customer service delivery director, said: "We have a committed team in place, determined to maintain a normal service for our customers.

"I am confident we can continue to deliver this."

Director of communications Chris Wallace added: "We are deeply disappointed; this decision is not the right action for Scottish Water.

"We have been in continuous dialogue with unions for a considerable time regarding this year's pay award.

"We are aware of the demands on everyone's pay in today's tough economic climate, but we believe we have given the best possible deal under the circumstances."

He added it was the only pay deal Scottish Water could give "under public sector guidelines".

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