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Council / Union insists ‘harmonisation’ is not the only option

Sullom Voe harbour tugs at work. Photo: John Bateson

THE LOCAL branch of the Unite union has moved to challenge comments made by council chief executive Maggie Sandison with regards to the ongoing negotiations over terms and conditions for men working on the tugs at the Sullom Voe oil port.

Earlier this week, the chief executive told Shetland News Shetland Islands Council had agreed to the early payment of a long service award on the understanding that negotiations towards ‘harmonising’ workers’ terms and conditions with those of the local authority would continue.

Tug workers heading towards becoming full SIC employees

But local Unite chairperson John Halcrow has now challenged that assertion saying that while he was aware of the fact that the council favours ‘harmonisation’, that was not the only option on the table.

He said he was unable to discuss these other options as they were part of a confidentiality agreement with the SIC.

“Ms Sandison has asserted that the agreement reached was simply a ‘goodwill gesture’, this is not the case, it is a formal agreement, the full terms of which are quite complex,” Halcrow said.

“It is due to these complexities that it was agreed between the parties that the full details would be kept confidential, limited to those directly affected.

“This was considered important in order that the very misrepresentation described in this article was avoided.

“I do not intend to breach the confidentiality agreed, however I consider it appropriate under the circumstances now created by the chief executive’s comments, to point out that the agreement reached involves a range of options, of which harmonisation with the council SJC terms is only one.”

Unite was approached by Shetland News on Monday with a request to comment and to clarify the negotiating position reached. At the time they declined to give any further details.

It was only after Shetland News published on Tuesday that the local branch made contact with a response.

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