Nursery nurses to meet councils over pay dispute

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Hopes have been raised for progress towards a settlement in the long-running dispute between Scotland's public sector nursery nurses and their council employers. The Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has invited representatives of the unions Unison, the CMT and the T&G, to a meeting to seek ways forward in the dispute after a year of industrial action by nursery nurses and a refusal to implement the Scottish Executive's early years strategies.

Hopes have been raised for progress towards a settlement in the long-running dispute between Scotland's public sector nursery nurses and their council employers.

The Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has invited representatives of the unions Unison, the CMT and the T&G, to a meeting to seek ways forward in the dispute after a year of industrial action by nursery nurses and a refusal to implement the Scottish Executive's early years strategies.

Cosla spokesman David Kennedy confirmed that its president, Pat Watters, had written to all the unions representing nursery nurses inviting them to the meeting 'in a bid to end the stalemate' and to find a way to 'move forward'. However, he stressed that Cosla's position - that nursery nurses should negotiate locally with individual councils - had not changed. Mr Kennedy said there was no sign of movement on either side.

Carol Ball, chair of Unison's nursery nurses working group, said the union would be happy to meet with Cosla. She added, 'We have been led to believe that some councils now want to see a national settlement.'

Unison members are considering their next move and whether to continue with the industrial action that shut various nursery services during the autumn.

Ms Ball said some members were now ready for an all-out indefinite action, while others wanted to continue with selective moves. 'They are not saying that they have had enough of the dispute,' she said.

Unison was allowing 26 of its local branches to consider a range of options for further industrial action before making a decision on a national strategy. On 13 January Unison's industrial action committee will then decide the next steps.

Last year Unison rejected a recommended pay rise of between 6.7 and 12.5 per cent, depending on an employee's grade. Cosla said that it could not mandate this offer to local councils.

For two years Unison has been seeking a rise of around 3,000 a year for nursery nurses to reflect their status and responsibilities that have been added to their work.

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