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Council questions union ballots

 17 February 2015  |  

South Ayrshire Council does not recognise recent industrial action ballot undertaken by Unite the Union and UCATT (Union of Construction Trades, Allied Trades and Technicians).

When the Council – which doesn't consider itself to be in any such dispute – challenged the ballot, the unions said it related to 'physical conditions' relating to a recent grievance.

The grievance referred to was fully investigated in line with the Council's Grievance Policy (which was jointly agreed with unions) and the agreed process exhausted. This process ends at an appeal to a Panel of Elected Members. 

The investigation did; however, highlight opportunities to improve working arrangements within the Property Maintenance service to ensure Council housing tenants receive a better and more efficient service and work has been undertaken to secure these improvements.

Just over half the former craft workers within property maintenance have now voted to take part in strike action or action short of a strike and the Council is awaiting further notification from the unions.

Any industrial action will, unfortunately, detrimentally affect the property maintenance service provided to Council housing tenants.

Eileen Howat, Chief Executive of the Council, said: "We work closely with our trade union colleagues and fully support their rights to ballot their members on appropriate issues. Our concern here is that the basis of what has been described as a 'trade dispute' relates to a matter that has been dealt with through the appropriate channels, which were agreed by the collective trade unions. 

"However, while we do not believe there is a legitimate trade dispute, the Council will, as always, continue to try and work with trade unions to resolve issues and, therefore, I have arranged for an ACAS Conciliator to meet with both management and union representatives on Wednesday."

Separately, and unconnected to the grievance, it is necessary to amend a number of existing terms and conditions of employment, some of which only affect the former Craft Worker group (which has undertaken the ballot). 

The changes to terms and conditions, which are entirely unconnected with the ballot or the earlier grievance, are likely to result in an overall improvement to the pay arrangements for a significant number of staff and this was approved at today's Leadership Panel.

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