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LONG-TERM DEAL IS SCOTS EMPLOYERS' AIM

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Scottish councils have criticised the single status deal for leaving them to grapple with the toughest problems on ...
Scottish councils have criticised the single status deal for leaving them to grapple with the toughest problems on their own, and say only a short-term agreement will be signed in Scotland by the new year.

The Scottish joint working party on single status met last week to discuss its own version of the agreement. Unions have proposed a modified version of the deal with a greater emphasis on Scotland-wide negotiations.

Although Scottish councils are party to the national deal and will implement pay rises in line with the rest of the country, the negotiating council for Scotland has yet to be formed and differences in detail agreed.

Dan Brown, head of personnel strategy at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said that by the end of the year there could be a 'tartanised version' of the English 'green book' agreement. But it would be short-term as it would not address major problems of bonus payments or new pay and grading structures.

'As far as Scotland is concerned, if you just go with the agreement that we have, councils would turn around and say there's not much point in having national negotiating machinery.'

Unison Scotland head of local government Mark Irvine said one of the main differences in the rewritten agreement was 'an emphasis on Scottish-wide bargaining rather than devolving issues to individual councils to resolve'.

Although there were some difficult negotiations to follow, there was common ground between unions and employers on retaining a national bargaining role for the joint Scottish councils, he said. Single status has been criticised by some union members in England for shifting to more local negotiations.

Mr Brown said COSLA had been reluctant to sign the national deal because it gave no steer for councils on the toughest issues such as bonus. A bid to delay single status in Scotland because of the cost was abandoned after union resistance.

One of the unions' demands is a single national job evaluation scheme, but Mr Brown said COSLA was firm in its resolve to retain the right for councils to choose their own grading system.

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