Fury over SBC’s new terms and conditions

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

A LEADING union has vowed to fight proposed changes by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to the terms and conditions of staff.

And Unite the Union branch secretary Eck Barclay claimed this week the plans would affect some of the most vulnerable people in society.

A paper put forward at last week’s full council meeting contained a raft of proposals as the cash-strapped local authority attempts to save £2.893 million over the next four years.

This included removing the top incremental pay point for grades 8-12; awarding incremental progression on a biennial basis rather than annual; standard night enhancement reduced from a third to 15 per cent for hours worked between 10pm and 6am – currently paid from 9pm; and the removal of weekend enhancements.

The report said: “We believe the proposals are the single best option to achieving the targeted savings while mitigating the impact on staff financially.”

It comes following new terms and conditions for new starts from January this year and subsequent negotiations between SBC and the unions.

Mr Barclay, whose Unite the Union represent some 800 workers at SBC, revealed members would be balloted with the recommendation to reject the proposals.

He said: “We understand that there is a shortfall in finances that local authorities have at their disposal as a result of what’s happening with the ConDem government at Westminster.

“However, we don’t think it’s fair that our members should be the ones who have to pay the price every time.”

Mr Barclay said the proposed changes would impact the greatest on home care workers and night support workers – who are predominantly part-time, female employees.

One carer, who did not wish to be named, said: “We’re obviously not happy. There’s always a lot of sickness and you’re just not going to get people coming out for single time. It’s the clients who will suffer because the council won’t be able to maintain the service.”

Should the changes be agreed, they will be put in place from April 1, 2014.

However, the paper outlined the alternative. It read: “If the proposals are rejected then the council will need to consider dismissing staff and reengaging on new terms and conditions.”