The Executive has encouraged both Scottish Enterprise and the trade unions to hold discussions in respect of differences on pay systems. However, the conduct and content of meetings is a matter for Scottish Enterprise as the
Will the minister be more active in trying to find a solution to the dispute between Scottish Enterprise management and Careers Scotland staff? Given that Unison is in favour of a fair pay system that incorporates performance-related elements but management stubbornly refuses to negotiate on that point, will he use his good offices in an effort to get both sides round the negotiating table to reach a fair settlement?
I confirm to Dennis Canavan that Scottish Enterprise is willing to discuss aspects of the performance pay award that has been offered, although it has made it clear that the basic principle of performance pay is not negotiable. I assure him that, on numerous occasions, I have encouraged both sides—Scottish Enterprise and the trade unions—to work together on meaningful negotiations to bring the dispute to an end. I have stressed to them the importance of that and will continue to do so.
I hear what the minister says on that point, but I, like many other members, have been lobbied on the issue, which is of public interest. Although it would normally be wrong for a minister to interfere in negotiations between employers and employees, I understand that the Careers Scotland performance pay scheme discriminates against women because it does not adequately reflect the fact that they tend to take career breaks and therefore often lose out on promotion or other career opportunities. Careers Scotland is refusing to review the scheme to take account of the situation as it affects women. Will he at least make representations to Careers Scotland on that specific point, so that it can be dealt with?
Mike Watson is right that to say that generally ministers would not interfere. The staff in question are not civil servants and it is up to Scottish Enterprise, as the employer, to resolve the dispute. I said in my answer to Dennis Canavan that Scottish Enterprise is willing to discuss aspects of the performance pay award, but the principle of performance pay has been in place at Scottish Enterprise for more than 10 years. I will ensure that the point that Mike Watson raised about women is drawn to the attention of the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, who I hope to see next week.