Four days of strike action by Scottish Water staff are set to begin tomorrow over a pay dispute, Unison has confirmed.

Members were balloted last month, with 78 per cent voting in favour of strike action.

Unison members working in Scottish Water will begin four days of strike action from Friday, November 10 until Monday, November 13 which will see serious implications for water and sewage services across Ayrshire.

It means that emergency repairs will not be done, water quality checks will not take place and, if the people report problems with their water supply, sewage or drainage, they will not be dealt with while staff are on strike.

The dispute comes after Scottish Water refused to give its staff a pay rise unless they agree to a new pay and grading proposal that will see the earnings of their lowest-paid staff drop by up to £5,000.   

It has been confirmed that the pay and grading proposal has not been negotiated with unions and is causing anger among staff.

The union said the proposals will cause years of wrangling over pay grades and push the lowest paid onto even lower wages and cause significant problems around equality legislation. 

Patricia McArthur, branch secretary for UNISON Scottish Water, said: “Strike action is always a last resort, but Scottish Water managers are imposing a new pay structure with no involvement from staff, which is not acceptable. It is storing up problems for the future. 

“It seems that the Scottish Government’s Fair Work and equality commitments don’t matter in our biggest and most precious public asset. We need urgent intervention from the Scottish Government to talk with unions and get meaningful talks started.”  

Emma Phillips, Unison regional organiser, said: “Scottish Water truly are a rogue employer.   Our strong ballot result shows the strength of feeling among our members, who have overwhelmingly rejected the employer’s slapdash proposals. 

“Despite this, Scottish Water are insisting they are still going to implement the changes to employment contracts and pay structures. 

“Scottish Water is ripping up the government’s fair work and equality guidance and it’s just not good enough – our members deserve better. 

“If the Scottish Government don’t intervene, then they have been warned that they are storing up problems over pay structures and future equal pay. Re-grading has to be done properly with the full involvement of staff and unions.”