HUNDREDS of Scottish Water workers have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

Seventy-eight per cent of UNISON’s 1100 members voted in favour of the industrial action.

The union claims the publicly owned utility is tying their cost of living pay offer to a new pay and grading structure and that bosses have been withholding information from the trade unions.

Emma Phillips, UNISON Regional Organiser, said: "It seems that Scottish Government’s Fair Work and equality commitments don’t matter in our biggest and most precious public asset.

“There is a feeling amongst members that Scottish Water bosses are behaving like Victorian Mill owners – and this overwhelming vote for strike action is a reflection of how staff feel they are being treated.

“We met with ACAS on October 16 in an attempt to resolve matters. Unfortunately, there was no positive progress made. We remain committed to resolving this dispute and have a further meeting early next week, however, we are clear this is make or break.

“UNISON and the other unions want to negotiate a new pay and grading structure with Scottish Water, but this is a complex process that relies on accurate data.

"It is not going to be resolved quickly and these discussions need to be separated from any cost of living pay offer.

“The key workers at Scottish Water need their overdue cost of living pay rise now.”

A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “We are extremely disappointed that the unions chose to ballot their members on industrial action whilst we remain in talks with them, supported by ACAS. 

“We continue to seek to negotiate a resolution to this dispute over what we consider a very fair and reasonable proposal. It would increase the pay of every employee by at least 8% and transform our pay and grading structure, ensuring it is fit for the future. It has been developed specifically in response to the concerns our people have with our existing approach, which is now 20 years old. 

“All our employees make a valuable contribution to the delivery of vital public water and wastewater services for customers – their work underpins the daily lives of more than 5 million people. When their strong feedback suggested that the current pay and grading structure is outdated and requires modernisation, we listened.  

“Both sides will continue conciliation talks on Monday to seek to achieve an outcome that benefits all our employees.”