Strike action planned at Borders council roads department

Employees at Scottish Borders Council’s roads department will hold 24 hours of industrial action later this month over a dispute relating to working conditions.

The Unite union said 86.4% of its members voted for strike action in June with 95.7% opting for action short of a strike, in a 78% turnout.

The day of industrial action on August 29 coincides with a full council meeting where a rally and protest will take place outside the local authority’s headquarters at Bowden Road, Newtown St Boswells.

According to Unite, the dispute follows a series of detrimental changes being imposed by the council to the terms and conditions of the union’s membership in the local authority’s roads department. The changes include a reduction in pension accrual as a result of cuts to pensionable overtime rates, and the removal of paid travel time.

Willie Thomson, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Unite will hold a day of industrial action on 29 August to coincide with the full meeting of Scottish Borders Council to ensure elected representatives and officials fully understand the anger of our members. The workers in the roads department have been treated with contempt and the latest efforts by the council to draft in contracted workers to cover workers taking action is disgraceful. Instead of positively engaging with the workers and Unite, the council seem intent on escalating the dispute. Unite will explore every legal avenue to challenge this aggressive action.

“Unite also believes that there is a strong legal case that workers are being offered unlawful financial inducements to break the existing collective bargaining agreements. If this is the case, then Scottish Borders Council could end up facing a legal bill for more than £160,000, which is a fraction of the cost required to settle this dispute. Unite would, once again, urge Scottish Borders council to get back around the negotiating table to settle this dispute, which we believe can be easily achieved if councillors swiftly intervene.”

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