Relay protest off as new pay talks planned

Council headquarters at Motherwell Civic Centre.
Council headquarters at Motherwell Civic Centre.

A protest planned as the Queen’s Baton Relay passes through Strathclyde Park has been called off after a breakthrough in a long-running pay row.

Unison planned to release black balloons as part of a campaign to get improved salaries for more than 2,000 low paid North Lanarkshire Council workers.

However, council leader Jim McCabe said he has ‘instructed officers to enter into talks with the claimants’ representatives with a view to progressing negotiations on outstanding equal pay matters’.

The issue has already taken up 33 days at an Employment Tribunal.

Carol Fox, of solicitors Fox and Partners, who represent more than 1,000 workers, welcomed the move, but warned: “This is the first step. There is no guarantee of success and unless the council is serious we will return to the tribunal.”

Unison branch secretary John Mooney said: “Now that we have been convinced we are entering constructive negotiations, we are prepared to suspend all campaign activities to allow these to go ahead.

“Negotiations will not be easy and will not be resolved overnight. Make no mistake, it was local union activity that brought about this breakthrough.”

The council’s SNP group welcomed the ‘dramatic and sudden progress’ with leader Councillor David Stocks saying their walk out from a council meeting on the issue had been vindicated.