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‘Christmas is cancelled’ for West Dunbartonshire Council’s lowest paid workers, says union leader

According to a union leader, the lowest paid council staff are being forced to take out payday loans for Christmas after it was revealed they would not receive their pay rise until February.

David Scott, who is the GMB’s West Dunbartonshire organizer, told the Lennox Herald he brought workers to tears after it was revealed payment would not be made until the New Year.

And he accused local authority bosses in Scrooge of canceling Christmas for dedicated staff. The trade unionist told us: “It is embarrassing and frustrating for people who have done their best to get through the pandemic for all the vulnerable people out there when they themselves are vulnerable.

“Christmas in West Dunbartonshire this year is officially canceled for the thousands of low-wage workers who have maintained services during the current pandemic.”

Last week we reported on how a deal was struck for the majority of council staff who would now get between 3.4% and 4.7% retroactive to January 2021. This came after unions proposed a improved offer with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), including a flat rate of £1,062 for those in the lowest pay bracket.

But the hammer blow was revealed to Mr Scott late last month and he had to let the members know the money would not be with them in time for Christmas.

He said: “There has been a lot of concern. There are people who take out loans because they don’t get that money. They have to put food on the table and keep the heating on.

“It’s business as usual with this advice. It is the lowest paid who are affected.

“These are mostly workers, janitors, facility staff and cleaners.”

The council told the Lennox Herald it was trying to process the work involved as quickly as possible, with the majority of council workers receiving their December salaries on December 9, just five working days after the pay deal was reached.

There was outrage in other parts of the country, including Aberdeen, with council bosses there accused of having canceled Christmas due to the delay. In West Dunbartonshire, those paid monthly will have to wait until the end of January and those on a four-week pay cycle won’t get the money until February 3. However, other areas, including Edinburgh, have pledged to pay workers the shortfall by December 25. .

Mr Scott continued: ‘I don’t understand why this is happening. I think that’s outrageous.

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: ‘This is important and complex work which requires the calculation of arrears over two tax years, several percentage increases linked to vertebral points, the various percentage increases being applicable for different time periods per individual, and a high degree of accuracy.

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