Borders tradesmen move towards ballot on industrial action

Borders tradesmen move towards ballot on industrial action

05 October 2016

Tradesmen employed by Scottish Borders Housing Association are moving closer to a ballot for industrial action. 

Unite the union has accused the association of not taking seriously negotiations over pay, equality of working conditions, and working hours.

Unite regional officer Tony Trench said: “We finally got the housing association to sit around a negotiating table after trying for two years. We had discussions with the association, and with the conciliation service ACAS. Following that meeting, the association was supposed to get back to ACAS on Monday 3 October. They didn’t.

“Our members have been patient, but they won’t be patient forever. In a consultative ballot, more than 80 per cent told us they would support industrial action. If the housing association doesn’t start serious negotiations soon, we will have no choice but to move to a formal, legal ballot.

“We believe that the association has a high turnover of staff among its tradesmen. That’s not good for our members, it’s not good for the housing association, and it’s not good for tenants.”

Unite represents around 80 tradesmen and labourers employed by the association. The union is pushing for an increase to the implemented 1.1 per cent pay award, and for harmonisation of holidays and the working week across the association. At the moment, the tradesmen work a 37 hours a week, while some office staff work 35 hours a week and also receive a day’s holiday more per year.

The union is also pushing for changes to start and finish times for the tradesmen. 

Tony Trench said: “The European Court of Justice has made it clear that journeys made by mobile workers must count as working time, but that’s not being properly recognised by the housing association. They need to either pay what the law says, or change the start and finish times of our members, to take account of their travelling time.

“All our members want is fair pay, equality with other members of staff and a bit of respect for the work they do maintaining and repairing homes for people throughout the Scottish Borders.”


Notes to editors

For further information, or to arrange an interview, contact Unite Scotland press officer David Eyre on 07960 451631. Email

Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with 150,000 members across the economy. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.