Shetland Islands Council and trade union Unite appear to have negotiated a breakthrough in the saga over pay grading for ferry mates on the inter island ferries.
Today’s six-hour long walkout on the majority of the routes has been suspended.
Pending further talks, there is hope that strikes announced for February 25 and March 4 could also be suspended.
In a joint statement issued yesterday both sides agreed to an offer by local authorities umbrella group CoSLA to appoint an independent assessor to review how ferry mates’ posts are evaluated.
The talks, held in Edinburgh on Tuesday morning, were facilitated by CoSLA.
The breakthrough follows councillors’ decision last Monday that the mates’ grievances were “misdirected at the council” as it is not in a position to make changes to a national pay and grading scheme.
The SIC agreed to participate in a pilot scheme under the auspices CoSLA to incorporate maritime roles in national pay scheme. Unite is to participate in the decision making of that process.
The council head of infrastructure services, Maggie Sandison, said: “Everybody has agreed to the pilot scheme, but we have also agreed to get an independent expert appointed by CoSLA and Unite to look at the evaluation again.
“It has taken a while really to try and establish exactly what the union was seeking. I suppose there was a lack of understanding and clarity, and I think we have moved a lot further ahead today.”