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Date: Thursday 15 November 2007

Agency move away from negotiations sparks vote of no confidence call

An attempt by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to sideline established negotiation arrangements and try to do individual pay deals with all 1300 staff has provoked a sharp reaction from staff, who have called for a vote of no confidence in their management.

SEPA yesterday presented a new draft pay structure for the whole agency, and a final pay offer to the union. Then in an amazing move they refused to give the union time to consult its members and said they were planning to go straight to individual members to get their agreement, imposing the new structure if they didn't get agreement.

Marion Adamson, UNISON's Regional Officer said "It is clear that SEPA management came to the negotiation yesterday anticipating rejection of their proposals. They refused to negotiate, and they refused to allow consultation with our members on what is a complex new structure, and a two-year pay deal. This is not the first time that SEPA has unilaterally walked away from agreed procedures when UNISON doesn't immediately agree to their proposal. Members are incensed and have called for a vote of no confidence in the management."

The rapid distribution of papers detailing arrangements for meetings and the process of individual discussions suggest that SEPA management planned to walk away from collective bargaining before the meeting on Wednesday.

Rebecca Noon, UNISON's SEPA Branch Secretary said, "It is particularly galling, that after a number of years negotiating on the introduction of job evaluation and equal pay, pursuing fair pay for women within the agency, the management can bring to the table a part-completed offer, insist we accept it before talking to members and then walk away again from the arrangements they agreed to set up."

Similar pay problems affect other Non Departmental Public Bodies (or Quangos). They are all subject to a lengthy, bureaucratic and inflexible system of approval by the Scottish Government's Public Sector Pay Unit.

UNISON has already issued detailed advice to its members on how to respond to individual offers, suggesting that they ensure they are represented and don't get pressured into accepting bad deals. In the meantime the union will consult formally with members on the offer that they have been given, and discuss the call for the vote of no confidence.


For further information please contact: Marion Adamson, Regional Officer 07904 326812 Rebecca Noon, Branch Secretary 07748 945 801 Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715583729