Scottish water strikes planned for this weekend have been suspended after a new proposal was reached following late-night talks.
Workers walked out last week and plan another strike for this weekend as part of 48 days of action due to continue into the new year.
Members of the GMB, Unite and Unison unions are fighting against the publicly owned firm’s proposals for a new pay structure, claiming they were not consulted.
Following a meeting moderated by Acas – which lasted until about 11pm on Wednesday – the decision was taken to suspend strike action to allow members to vote on new proposals.
Workers held their first strike last week (PA)
Peter Farrer, chief operating officer of Scottish Water, said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the United Trade Unions which provides our staff with an exceptional pay award and a path to a modern pay and grading system and the immediate future. Prevents industrialization. Action.
“Union members will be put to a vote on the proposal shortly and we expect a positive outcome.”
Speaking to the PA news agency last week, Unison’s Scottish Water branch secretary Patricia McArthur accused the company of holding a proposed 8% pay rise “to ransom” because staff would not agree to the new grading structure.
“We are on strike because Scottish Water is basically blocking our cost of living increase,” he said.
“They are trying to force employees to accept a new pay and grading system that has not been collectively agreed upon by the unions and we have some serious concerns about its content.
“We are expecting a good cost of living increase before Christmas, we are looking to work with Scottish Water and bring together a pay and grading system that will be good for everyone.”
According to the GMB, the new proposal includes an 8% pay rise, a back date to April and a timetable for further negotiations on pay and grading structure.
Claire Greer, union organizer at Scottish Water, said: “Progress has finally been made and we have a proposed agreement worth taking with our members.
“We have suspended industrial action to allow two weeks of voting and seeking the views of our members.”
While Unite said it would vote on its 500-strong membership at the agency between Friday and December 4.
Stevie Dean, the union’s regional co-ordinator, said: “Following the latest round of negotiations with Scottish Water we have jointly agreed a new pay offer which will now be put to our membership.
“As part of these intense negotiations, the unions managed to separate the pay proposal from any new grading structure. This was a major objective for us.
“Unite has decided, together with the United Trade Unions, to suspend all upcoming industrial action until our membership has had the opportunity to fully consider and vote on the merits of this new proposal.”
The talks were brokered by Acas, with the service’s chief conciliator Marina Glasgow saying: “After a period of intensive Acas discussions, we are pleased that industrial action has been suspended while unions vote on the proposed agreement. “