Public health risk if dispute escalates to strike action

Unite the union has today (14 August) accused Scottish Water bosses of attempting to impose a new grading structure and pay offer outside the agreed collective bargaining processes.

Around 500 frontline Scottish Water workers will now participate in a consultative ballot over the potential for strike action. This includes waste water operatives, water treatment and burst repair operatives, maintenance engineers, electricians and sewage tanker drivers. 

The trade union claims that due to the key roles its membership undertake on the frontline in sewers, water treatment centres and on pipework, then any future strike action would directly impair Scottish Water’s ability to respond to water leakages, flooding, pollution and quality concerns.

The ballot opens on 18 August and closes on 31 August. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, said: “Scottish Water bosses are treating the workforce and recognised trade unions with total contempt. There are long-standing processes in place for discussing the jobs, pay and conditions of the workforce. This can’t be burst open just because there are new people in the boardroom with exorbitant salaries. It’s unacceptable and Unite will challenge this head-on.”

Unite has directly accused Scottish Water bosses of by-passing long-standing collective bargaining processes involving the recognised trade unions. The new ‘reward system’ which Scottish Water bosses are trying to impose is also being tied to the 2023 pay offer. 

Alex Plant, the new Chief Executive of Scottish Water, is reported to be on an annual salary of £295,000. Scottish Water is estimated to provide service support to over 2.6 million households and more than 159,000 business premises across Scotland. 

Stephen Deans, Unite regional coordinating officer, added: “Scottish Water bosses are trying to force through a new grading structure without consulting the trade unions. To make matters worse, the new structure is being directly tied to this year’s pay offer. On every front it just stinks.”

“The new chief executive, Alex Plant, is just in the door but already he seems content with annihilating the working relationship which the trade unions have had in place for many years with Scottish Water.”

“If it comes to strike action, then there is no doubt that, due to the key role our members undertake on the frontline, it would have a major impact on Scotland’s waste and water treatment services.”