Union leaders urge West Dunbartonshire council chief to ‘look in the mirror’ over arrears dispute

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A union furiously hit back at the chairman of the board and urged him to “look in the mirror” after accusing him of misleading workers.

David Scott of GMB says it was Jonathan McColl who misled West Dunbartonshire Council staff in a row about the back pay.

Some workers will have to wait until February to receive their back pay, which dates back to January 2021, after unions struck a wage deal with COSLA five weeks ago.

The board admitted in December that it was unable to pay the money before Christmas – GMB claiming this forced the lowest-paid board staff to take out payday loans.

At a board meeting two weeks ago, SNP leader Jonathan McColl criticized the unions and said they had “falsely raised” staff expectations.

He said it was “impossible” for West Dunbartonshire and most of the other councils to make this ambitious request come true.

But David fired back, saying the council chief should not have accepted the wage deal if he had.

The GMP official said the wording of the deal said “best efforts” would be made to bring workers together before Christmas, commenting: “Yes, as Jonathan describes it, he should have said” best efforts “but” little probable “, it is clear that he misled the workforce and he should never have accepted the wording of the offer.

“It is not unreasonable for workers who should have had their pay raise in place by April 1 to expect their employer to do everything possible, including considering interim payments to keep their raise. wages are paid to them as quickly as possible.

“There were no nationally agreed timeframes for payment beyond the wording of the offer.

“When it comes to communication failures and a dishonest rise in workforce expectations, it’s board leaders who need to look at themselves in the mirror.

“GMB remains frustrated that other larger councils have succeeded in paying the backdated money to their hard-working and tireless employees during the current pandemic. “

Over 55% of local government employees earn less than £ 25,000 per year and the lump sum increase of around £ 1,062 is the highest single increase in a one-year settlement for the lowest salary that was reached.

The board says it tries to deal with the work involved as quickly as possible but involves complex sums of money for each worker.

Responding to the comments, Councilor McColl said: “My motion stated that the councils had agreed to do ‘their best’ to disburse the money in December, but the context of this agreement includes lengthy discussions with unions nationwide on the likelihood of that being, and the agreement that it was as far as we could go in final language given how unlikely it was.

“What appears to have happened is that GMB locally took the ‘best efforts’ of the text of the agreement and translated it by telling staff in West Dunbartonshire that he would definitely be paid, which has aroused expectations and disappointments; no other union has done so and no other local branch of the GMB has done so in any other Scottish council.

“Twisting my words to distract from the misinformation they’ve been giving to their members is the stuff of elementary school playgrounds.

“GMB also needs to stop suggesting that the board hasn’t done its best to get the money out as quickly as possible.

“In doing so, they continue to attack council staff, many of whom are undoubtedly union members.

“I can tell you with certainty that they have worked as hard and as fast as possible, and this continued unwarranted criticism of the staff at West Dunbartonshire GMB is unacceptable.”

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