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Date: 22 June 2005


CAREERS staff in Scotland are set to escalate a 14-week dispute over performance related pay.

Scotland's public service union UNISON said today that staff at Careers Scotland are dismayed that Scottish Enterprise is continuing to impose a consolidated performance related pay scheme which the union believes could discriminate against women.

Careers staff are also angered by the discriminatory treatment of team leaders taking part in industrial action.

A series of meetings with members around Scotland next week will consider escalating the dispute, which so far involves workers refusing to take part in performance management reviews and refusing to record client and customer details on the internal database system.

The escalation follows Scottish Enterprise agreeing to meet with UNISON and the conciliation service last week, but then refusing to move from a 2.5% pay offer, well below other public sector pay awards.

The majority of staff in the Careers Scotland business unit have been participating in a programme of industrial action since March.

On Thursday June 16 Scottish Enterprise responded to our proposals on the previous pay offer with a compromise offer for 2004-5 of 2.5% for all staff within the Careers Scotland business unit.

UNISON rejected this on the grounds that more than 80% of the workforce would have been worse off financially if the offer was accepted. UNISON also pointed out to SE that the 2.5% offer was well below current public sector pay awards.

UNISON suggested the involvement of the ACAS conciliation service. UNISON had offered to go to ACAS to resolve this dispute on several occasions and were pleased on Thursday that SE agreed to use the ACAS service.

On Friday 17 June a meeting was held with SE, UNISON and ACAS at the Milton Hotel, Glasgow. UNISON outlined to the ACAS conciliator our suggestions for a way forward to resolve the ongoing industrial dispute and obtain a one year deal on pay for the year 2004-5. This proposal would, in UNISON's view, allow discussions to start at an early stage between SE and UNISON regarding the future pay system within Scottish Enterprise.

The conciliator met with the SE management team and on his return to the UNISON team he reported that SE were not prepared to move on their position as outlined at the meeting of June 16.

UNISON believes that SE's agreement to utilise ACAS was a cynical exercise to enhance their public image but that they had no real intention of actively participating in proper conciliation.

Following the meeting UNISON is left with no option but to seek a view from the membership on escalating this dispute. This will be done through a series of roadshows with members throughout Scotland during the week starting Monday June 27.

James Corry, branch secretary (Scottish Enterprise Careers and Development), said that UNISON is dismayed at Scottish Enterprise's continued use of a pay system that benefits the few to the detriment of the many.

He said: "Members are angry not only about the derisory offer but also about the treatment of a group of our members during our lawful trade dispute.

"Scottish Enterprise is insisting on reviewing the performance of team leaders in the Careers service at the lowest possible benchmark. This is because these team leaders have not been reviewing the performance of their staff as part of the industrial action.

"Our membership feels that Scottish Enterprise are penalising their colleagues at team leader level for taking part in the programme of industrial action.

"This unfair assessment of team leaders takes no account of their performance in all other aspects of their job and could be viewed as victimisation of trade union members.

"We are keen to see a resolution to this dispute and are available at any time should Scottish Enterprise be prepared to enter meaningful discussions."



(Notes to the editor:

Careers Scotland became part of Scottish Enterprise in April 2002. SE has operated this scheme with existing staff for the last ten years but UNISON believes it has not been modernised in keeping with recommendations in governmental reports.

These reports highlighted that consolidated performance related pay systems were divisive, had a detrimental effect on staff morale and leave themselves open to possible legal challenges as the consolidated element can lead to inequalities in the pay of women compared to their male counterparts.

Trade unions have worked with other employers in the public sector to modernise their pay systems in line with governmental recommendations and indeed under the previous chief executive of SE, Robert Crawford, progress was being made in modernising Scottish Enterprise's pay system in line with these recommendations. Agreement was imminent.

Under the new Chief Executive Jack Perry's tenure these discussions were abandoned and the employer continued with their previous system for SE staff and imposed it on Careers Scotland staff.

UNISON represents around 900 staff within Careers Scotland - around 80-90% of the workforce.)

For further information please contact:

James Corry Branch Secretary. Tel: 0778 5517204

Peter Veldon Regional Officer UNISON Tel: 07969 478254.