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31 December 2003

Workforce must share in local government settlement

UNISON's Scotland's local authority trade union, today announced that they would be asking for a significant pay rise for local authority workers in Scotland when the four-year deal expires in 2004.

That deal was the outcome of several months of industrial action. This year's claim will be the first negotiations that have taken place since that settlement, and they are set against a background of funding allocations for local councils of £7.7 bn in 2004-5 and almost £8 bn in 2005-6.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said. "We welcome Andy Kerr's two -year allocation for Scottish local government earlier this month, but now we need to see that it goes into providing services. Part of that means ensuring those people delivering services are fairly paid. Now that the local councils have had a fair deal, they must reciprocate with their own staff."

Scottish local government trade unions will be agreeing their claim early in the New Year. It is likely to be for a figure that above the rate of inflation that deals with recruitment problems and addresses the gender gap.

Joe Di Paola said "The claim will take account of the approx 5% overall level of settlement allocated to local authorities. We will be discussing with our trade union colleagues the best way to use the two-year settlement to address problems of recruitmen and retention in social work and elsewhere in local services, and to ensure low paid staff such as nursery nurses are treated fairly. We must also address the problem of the gender gap in local government. Women are still paid significantly less than men and this cannot and should not continue."

UNISON also welcomed the relaxation of the framework for capital investment, allowing councils more freedom to increase capital investment.

Joe Di Paola said. "Anything that provides an alternative to the expensive and inefficient PFI route, is a step in the right direction. Whilst it is only a step forward, it should allow more public money going into services and less into the pockets of private companies."


Note to Editors: Andy Kerr MSP, Minister for Finance and Public Services, announced the allocations for Local authorities for 2004/5 and 2005/6 on 17 Dec in the Scottish Parliament. Details of the announcement are on the Scottish Executive Website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/pages/news/2003/12/SEFD316.aspx

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Government) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer UNISONScotland) 0771 558 3729(m)