UNISON sent notices to Scottish Water this week, to inform it that members will be taking strike action for four days starting on 10 November.
The strikes come after UNISON members at Scottish Water voted overwhelmingly (78%) for action over a pay and grading dispute earlier this month.
The dispute comes after Scottish Water proposed changes to employment contracts without properly engaging with unions, causing anger amongst staff. The union says the proposals will cause years of wrangling over pay grades and push the lowest paid onto even lower wages and cause significant problems around equality legislation.
UNISON has also written to the cabinet secretary with responsibility for Scottish Water, Màiri McAllan MSP, to ask her to intervene, in a last effort to avert industrial action.
The union says that the four-day strike, from 10 to 13 November, will have serious implications for water and sewage services – emergency repairs will not be done, water quality checks will not take place and, if the public report problems with their water supply, sewage or drainage, they will not be dealt with while staff are on strike.
Branch secretary for UNISON Scottish Water branch, Patricia McArthur said: “I am dismayed it has come to this. Scottish Water managers are imposing a new pay structure with no involvement from staff, which is not acceptable. It is storing up problems for the future.
“Scottish Water is a public utility and supposed to be the jewel in our public services. Yet staff are being treated worse than if we worked for one of the private water companies down south.”
UNISON regional organiser Emma Phillips said: “Industrial relations in Scottish Water are at rock bottom. Scottish Water staff know sewage when they see it and have strongly rejected their employers slap dash proposals.
“However, Scottish Water are insisting they are still going to implement the changes to employment contracts and pay structures.
“We have written to the Scottish government asking the cabinet secretary to – at very least – talk to unions to explore if we [can] get meaningful talks started. We have stressed to her that Scottish Water are ripping up the government’s fair work and equality guidance.
“If the Scottish government don’t intervene, then they have been warned that they are storing up problems over pay structures and future equal pay, and strikes will go ahead. Re-grading has to be done properly with the full involvement of staff and unions.”