Argyll and Bute Council social work and home care staff today joined a three-day authority-wide strike in protest against changes to pay and conditions.
The strike, which follows a walkout by some staff groups last week, began despite last-ditch talks last night between the West Scotland authority and unions Unison and Unite.
The dispute centres on the council’s implementation of the 1997 single status agreement, designed to correct longstanding pay inequalities in local government in the UK.
Unison branch chair Donald Brown claimed the council had imposed a settlement without union agreement that left some staff between £200 and £6,000 a year worse off.
Though he admitted that most staff had seen their basic salaries rise, he said in a number of cases take-home pay had fallen because of the withdrawal of enhancements for weekend working.
This was the key sticking point in yesterday’s meeting, with agreements reached on other issues.
The council said the retention of enhancements for weekend working would add £450,000 to the annual staff bill, which had already risen from £72m to £78m a year due to “substantial concessions” by the authority.
Argyll and Bute leader Dick Walsh said the council could give way no more, and also criticised the unions for refusing to exempt staff working with children and older people, or in lifeline services, from the strike.