Update Following Second Day of ACAS Talks with Unions

23 October 2023
Scottish Water contingency plans are being put in place to protect services to customers after conciliation talks with unions ended without agreement over enhanced proposals on an annual pay award and a modernised pay and grading structure.

The tabled proposal would deliver an in-year wage rise of at least 8% for employees and other benefits alongside a transformed grading structure which would offer clearer routes to future pay progression.
The transformed structure would replace arrangements which have been in place since the formation of Scottish Water 21 years ago and which employees have asked to be reformed.
A second day of talks with ACAS today (Monday Oct 23) ended without agreement. Unions previously balloted members on the potential for industrial action including the possibility of strikes.
Scottish Water - the publicly-owned water and waste water provider for 2.6 million homes and businesses which has more than 4000 employees - delivers 1.5 billion litres of water and removes and treats more than 1 billion litres of waste water every day. Services are essential to daily life, maintaining public health and protecting the environment. 

A contingency planning management team is looking at service requirements for any periods of industrial action.
Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are bitterly disappointed at this outcome. We put what would by any measure – especially in a public sector context - be an exceptional proposal on the table, which had been improved during the course of negotiations. We have always wanted to do the right thing for our employees. We are also surprised this proposal isn’t being taken to union members which was something we requested happen. 

“We now need to plan for a period of industrial action to ensure we can maintain services for our customers and do the right thing for them too. Planning for that scenario now is the responsible course of action. We are closely examining every aspect of our service which could be impacted. 

“We will do so whilst remaining 100% committed to seeking agreement and a way forward which avoids industrial action. It is something we would always want to avoid. The door remains open to discussion and agreement despite the ACAS process coming to an end. 

“We do not want customers to experience any disruption to their supplies or services and will do all we can to minimise that risk. Maintaining public health and protecting the environment are key factors for us. 

“We are working to do all that we can so we can make sure clean water supplies and effective waste water treatment services run to the high standard people in Scotland expect should we see any days of industrial action activity.”