Scottish Water Pay Award Negotiations Update

Hello Members

Pay Award Negotiations 2020

As always, Trade Union reps on the Negotiating Forum have been working hard on your behalf. Discussions in meetings in the last few months have been concerning the 2020 Pay Award.

The General Election in November delayed the budget, which has an impact on when negotiations could begin. In February, the Scottish Government released its Budget and representatives from the branch attended a meeting with members of the Scottish Governments’ Public Sector Pay Policy Unit. This meeting was fruitful and we were given assurances on how the Scottish Government expected its’ pay policy to be applied and that all employees were covered under it.

We were given assurances that the Government expected all employees to receive 3% pay increase and that Scottish Waters’ Performance Related Pay (PRP) should be over and above that. That gave us a good starting point for Negotiations to start in March.

In March’s Negotiating Forum, we outlined the joint Pay Claim and Scottish Water’s response was they were ‘astounded’ as the 3% figure was not in line with what they had been expecting or budgeted for. They went back to the SW Board and more money had been assigned for pay award 2020. There was no formal proposal put forward by SW, which was highly unusual.

By the first Negotiating Forum in April, Scotland was in the grip of COVID-19 and due to this Scottish Water made a proposal which would result in Gateways being suspended and paying 3% to all staff. This would allow a simpler settlement for our key workers and would give employees assurances at this difficult time.

On the whole this proposal was welcomed by the Trade Unions, however concerns were raised about the detail of eligibility. Despite information received from Scottish Governments’ Public Sector Pay Policy Unit, the offer from Scottish Water did not extend to employees deemed to be underperforming or employees subject to disciplinary outcomes. Staff in these categories would receive no pay rise at all.

We believed that this was not in the spirit of the Government’s Policy and as a result we asked the Government for clarity. They responded and changed their position from ‘ALL employees’ to staff ‘performing satisfactorily’.

By the Negotiating Forum on 17 April, SW had received a letter from the Cabinet Minister for Finance instructing them to implement the terms of the PSPP as quickly as possible following national agreement between Scottish Government and the STUC.

All 3 unions contacted their officials for further detail of this agreement, especially in relation to staff that would be excluded and the Joint Trade Union Group wrote to the Cabinet Secretary seeking clarity on the matter.

We have been advised that none of the unions had been part of the agreement as this was an agreement made between the Civil Service unions and the Scottish Government in relation to their own pay award. The Cabinet Minister had decided to roll it out across all employers accountable to the Scottish Government without discussion or consideration for the impact it would have.

Union officials raised the issue with the Government and verbal assurances were given to that there would be no exceptions and the 3% rise would be across the board with normal negotiations resuming at a later date. However, we awaited the formal response from the Cabinet Secretary.

A response was received on 7 May and it did not support the verbal assurances we had been given. It stated that the Scottish Government would not become involved in Scottish Water business. Scottish Water received a similar letter.

An extra-ordinary meeting took place this week, however this was not to discuss how to proceed as Scottish Water believe they have a green light to apply the pay award with the 2 exclusions. As such, they are processing the pay rise through payroll now and should you not be one of the ones covered under their yet undisclosed eligibility criteria, it will be in your May pay.

Whilst the pay rise has now been processed, please be assured that all 3 Trade Unions continue to dispute the exclusions. We feel that Scottish Water is not applying the policy in the spirit intended, especially as key workers are out risking their lives, the very key workers they don’t believe deserve a basic pay award.  Our Union Officials also continue to be in discussion with the Scottish Government on this, as well as other unions to see how it is being applied in their areas.

We feel that Scottish Water are picking and choosing which parts of PRP to apply as over-performer payments are not being paid at the moment. They are saving money on two fronts in our eyes and bringing disciplinary sanction into the equation without negotiation is also subject to the same dispute.

As union representatives we routinely see Gateway payments and FFI/Disciplinary proceedings used unfairly as a bullying tactic/punishment by some managers.  We also see underperformance not being addressed properly or handled correctly when it is being addressed – this is not acceptable. Punishing members by refusing to pay a basic pay uplift cannot and will not ever be accepted and will always be challenged.

If you do not see a salary adjustment in May’s salary or have any comments, please get in touch with me at

Kirsty Hughes
Branch Secretary

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