Highland Council has been praised after taking its contract for cleaning and servicing its public toilets back in-house – a move hailed by union chiefs as helping secure 84 jobs at a time of uncertainty.
The transfer back to council control comes 10 years after it was handed to a private contractor, to the fury of GMB Scotland.
The union has welcomed the move, claiming it would safeguard jobs and also result in better pay and conditions for the workers.
Liz Gordon, GMB officer for Highlands, said all 84 employees will now receive a pay increase of at least £1.25 an hour.
They had previously been on the national minimum wage, but will now earn the UK living wage under the local authority.
She added: “The news is really good. We are delighted the council has made this decision to bring back in-house a contract they had outsourced in a bid to make savings.
“There is always a concern when a contract is outsourced about job security and pay and conditions.
“For us this move is all about job retention.
“The council has transferred the 84 workers in-house, where the workers will hopefully enjoy more job security and better working conditions, including pensions, at a time of uncertainty in the country.”
Mrs Gordon praised the council for looking to return outsourced contracts back in-house, adding the employees would benefit by having their pay increased to the living wage.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The contract went out in 2007 to Vacman and then transferred to VPS in 2010.
“We are currently in the process of transferring staff onto Highland Council terms and conditions.”