COUNCIL road workers have carried out a demonstration outside of Scottish Borders Council’s Newtown St Boswells headquarters. 

Members of the union Unite are striking due to changes to their employment terms and conditions. 

Road workers descended on the local authority on the morning of Thursday August 29, to coincide with a full council meeting, and waved flags, shouted slogans and played ‘Money Money Money’ by ABBA on a PA system.

Speaking at the demonstration, Willie Thomson, a regional industrial organiser for Unite, said that the dispute could risk the region’s winter maintenance programme.

He said: “The reason why the men are taking action is basically a refusal from Scottish Borders Council to respect the terms and conditions of their employment. 

“They have had changes imposed on them that will cost them £1000’s, and they are not willing to have that done to them.

“The reason they are striking is to send a strong message that the council needs to get back round the table and reach an agreement with the workers. 

“The people of the Scottish Borders need to be aware that the council is risking their winter maintenance service.

“During the winter maintenance service members do a lot of extra hours to keep up with the extra demand. 

“We’re now in a position where members will be withdrawing that programme. 

“That work is done a voluntary basis and the good will that is required to do that is in short supply.”

Currently, summer standby for Scottish Borders Council’s road workers is voluntary, but council chiefs are trying to make this mandatory, in line with other sections of the council.

Earlier this year, Scottish Borders Council notified the unions that not enforcing the same terms and conditions across the whole council could leave the local authority open to gender pay discrimination claims, as the mainly male roads section of the council is not required to be on standby over the summer, whereas the mainly female care home staff are.

Summer standby payment for roads workers is currently £85.31, albeit it on a voluntary basis, and Scottish Borders Council is offering to up this to £101 as long as it becomes mandatory.

The two main unions which represent road workers at Scottish Borders Council, Unite and Unison, have been in discussion with the council ever since it informed employees that the terms and conditions would change.

However, the talks with Unite broke down, and 86.4% of the union’s members who voted in an industrial ballot voted for strike action. The turn out was 78%.


Scottish Borders Council’s chief executive Tracey Logan,said: “The council has not changed terms and conditions for this staff group, nor have we failed to consult the trade unions or the staff affected.

“In fact, we discovered some months ago that a small number of staff in this section had been claiming a higher rate of overtime than they were entitled to under the agreed terms and conditions.

“They were also claiming for time to travel to work when working weekend overtime, which again is not in line with the agreement in place.

“Given that Unite agreed to these terms and conditions, I am surprised and disappointed that they now want some of their members to be given more favourable pay rates than others, and for this small group be able to claim additional allowances that their other members cannot.

“It is a principle of fairness and equality for staff across the whole workforce and one which I would expect Unite as representatives of staff to uphold and commit to.”