Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 17:45 UK

Council workers accept pay deal

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Council staff have voted in favour of accepting the pay deal

A ballot of council staff in southern Scotland has seen more than 90% vote in favour of accepting a deal to address historic pay inequalities.

It affects more than 6,500 staff with Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Chief executive Gavin Stevenson said the agreement meant all employees with the authority would be "rewarded fairly" for their work.

But the council's Labour group said the result was expected as the deal would be imposed in the event of a "no" vote.

All three unions involved in the ballot reported significant majorities in favour of acceptance.

It is crucial that the council now implement this deal quickly, including back payments
Ronnie Nicholson
Leader of council's Labour group

Returns from Unison saw 89.6% back the deal, with the GMB and Unite both recording even higher figures.

Mr Stevenson said it represented a "vote of confidence" in the new salary scales.

"It gives us a strong platform to get the organisation fit to meet the challenges that lie ahead," he said.

"This deal was always about sorting out the inequalities at the heart of local government pay structures.

"Whether staff work in an office or in a manual role and whether they are male or female, their efforts will be rewarded fairly."

The Labour Group on Dumfries and Galloway Council have responded to the result of the single status ballot.

'A scandal'

However, Ronnie Nicholson, the leader of the Labour group on the council, said: "No-one will be surprised by this result given that members were effectively told it would be imposed even if they voted against it.

"It is crucial that the council now implement this deal quickly, including back payments."

He said it was a scandal that there had been "such inequality in local government pay for so long".

However, he added: "We shouldn't forget that although this is the best deal the unions feel they could have negotiated, up to 17% of those involved in the single status process - often the lowest paid workers and many not members of unions - will still lose out as a result of this settlement.

"Although clearly the majority will see a long overdue end to being underpaid."

It is hoped the new pay and grading structure can be introduced on 1 October and will be backdated to 1 April this year.

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