A UNION leader has hit out as hundreds of council workers could have to wait until February for their backdated pay rises.

GMB convener for West Dunbartonshire, David Scott, said it was unacceptable for staff to wait that long.

Some employees will need to wait until next month to receive their backpay, which dates back to January 2021, after unions agreed a pay deal with COSLA only five weeks ago.

West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) admitted in December that it was unable to pay out the cash before Christmas, with GMB saying this forced the lowest paid council staff to take out payday loans to survive.

But the council said it was impossible to process everyone so quickly after one of three unions was delayed agreeing the rise.

Mr Scott told the Post: “GMB members are extremely disappointed that more effort couldn’t be made by council leadership to support the team within the council designated to implement the pay rise.

“This is a pay rise that GMB members have been waiting for from April 2021, the majority of council workers earn much less than the council leader and are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis they are facing.”

The issue was discussed at a full council meeting on December 22 where Labour councillor Martin Rooney put forward the motion calling for more effort to put through the backdated pay.

But councillors narrowly voted for an amendment by council leader Jonathan McColl that said it would be “extremely challenging” for most councils to make back payments before Christmas because of the short timescale and complexity of calculating the sums.

The council agreed: “It is not fair to raise expectations of staff and fail to communicate accurately the timescales for payment locally that have been discussed and agreed nationally.

“Our frontline staff in payroll have been working extremely hard to calculate payments for their colleagues as fast as possible and these are planned to be made during January and the first week in February, dependant on which pay run staff are part of.”

Previously, Councillor McColl said: “Given how tight timescales were going to be, we were very clear to trade unions, and trades unions accepted, that unless everything moved very quickly, it would be impossible to make back payments before the new year.

“I know this will be disappointing for staff, but trade unions could not be expected to take shortcuts on an issue as important as this and I fully support them in following their processes to properly represent their members.”

At the time WDC said: “This is a significant and complex piece of work which requires calculation of arrears across two tax years, multiple percentage increases related to spinal points, the different percentage increases being applicable for various periods of time per individual, and a high degree of accuracy.”