Property maintenance workers vote for industrial action at East Dunbartonshire Council

Workers in the property maintenance services division at East Dunbartonshire Council have voted for industrial action following a dispute over shift patterns.

The Unite union said the industrial action ballot involved more than 60 workers in the plumbing, joinery and electrical trades.

More than 98% of Unite’s members, on a turnout of over 80%, voted to take strike action or action short of a strike, which could begin in early February.

According to the union, the dispute centres on East Dunbartonshire Council “imposing detrimental shift pattern changes” with the local authority already having notified the workers that they have been dismissed and re-engaged on new contracts.

Unite regional industrial officer, Kenny Jordan, said: “Unite’s craft membership in property maintenance services have shown their strong opposition and disgust at the proposals by East Dunbartonshire Council to impose new contracts. If these changes go unchallenged then our skilled members who fix and maintain vital public services and social housing will be on significantly inferior terms and conditions.

“The overwhelming mandate we have received from our membership will hopefully knock some common sense into management. Unite’s ambition is to resolve this dispute amicably and through meaningful talks but if this offer is not taken up then our craft members will be on strike in the coming weeks.”

Pauline Halligan, executive officer for organisational transformation at East Dunbartonshire Council, told Scottish Construction Now: “The council has consistently engaged with Unite throughout our ongoing service reviews, which are designed to safeguard as far as possible services and the workforce in the context of the challenging local government financial position.

“Unfortunately, no viable alternatives were provided by Unite before our statutory notices for the new working arrangements had to be issued in October 2019. The new arrangements started on 6 January with all employees working the new shift pattern. It is misleading of Unite to suggest that there are any other changes to terms and conditions.

“Our fundamental position is to secure a sustainable workforce to meet our service needs and those of our customers. We hope that Unite will take up our previous offer of further discussions on this matter.”

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