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Action to be suspended as breakthrough brings talks
Scotland's 32 branch forum, meeting on 5 January, decided to suspend selective strikes from 15 January to 31 January to allow new talks with the employers in that tight timescale.
Lead negotiator and branch secretary Dougie Black told the Forum,
"We always said there was no point in talks if there was nothing new. But this new protocol, won by members' action, brings a 'significant breakthrough' to allow real negotiations.
"Suspending action was a condition of the negotiations but we were adamant we would not let this drag on. That is why we insisted on the two week timescale".
The written protocol agreed between UNISON and CoSLA negotiators opens the door to:-
Even before the talks start there are improvements in the employers' position. With that and the 'significant breakthrough' in key areas like low pay, the Forum felt that these negotiations had to be given a chance to keep faith with members - especially since a key aim of the action was to get the employers into real negotiations.
However, if there is no progress in the two weeks, members will be back out and escalation plans invoked.
Action won the talks
"We must tap into the Scottish Executive's three year funding of councils", Edinburgh vice chair John Stevenson told the forum.
"If we don't tap into three year funding, we'll miss the boat and money available for pay rises will already be spoken for".
"Members' action has already achieved more than we have before the negotiations even begin.
"Our members would expect us to take this chance to achieve more this year and to secure a better deal for the lower paid", he added.
But he also warned that escalation would be "swift and decisive" if the talks did not bring a deal acceptable to members.
Talks are under way at Scottish and Edinburgh level to ensure there is no comeback for members temporarily returning to work.
What's the catch?
There are pitfalls. There is apparently nothing new for last year - but this could be overcome by improving the two year deal.
There is also a worry that suspending the action may lose momentum. But if our action cannot survive a two week suspension, there would have to be questions about its strength in the first place.
The Protocol analysed
This protocol is only to get negotiations started, it is not a settlement. The result of negotiations will be put to members
Employers to build on the current offer with a further increase for next two years. The date for implementing next year's rise is up for negotiation.
Means: Lets us protect pay in govt three year funding. Changing the pay date could increase the two year 6.1% offer.
If inflation is more than 3% by April 2001, this will be taken into account at the next settlement date
Means: Difference between rise and rate of inflation will be made up. Talks needed on how and which inflation indicators but this would be the first time there was any inflation proofing - for 6 of the last 7 years rises were below inflation.
Weighting and distribution of any settlement to lower paid employees and attempt to attain £5 minimum wage.
Means: Talks on higher rises for those on low pay and a commitment to achieving the £5 minimum rate, though not immediately. Still even before negotiation there is a commitment on a main plank of our claim.
The views expressed in UNISON News are not necessarily those of UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch or the union.
All articles/comments to John Stevenson, Communications Officer at 0131 220 5655
P&P by UNISON City of Edinburgh Local Government & Related Sectors Branch, 23 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN