But they repeated their criticism that the relocation decision will lead to wholesale and unnecessary redundancies. Prospect and PCS (the Public and Commercial Services Union) hope the new packages will give individual members a level of choice over whether they move to Inverness or lose their jobs. Fears remain that more than 200 staff still face compulsorily redundancy.
Staff have been forced to wait 17 months, following the Ministerial decision to relocate SNH’s headquarters function, to hear how they might be affected and what assistance would be offered. Today’s announcement is a culmination of the work undertaken between the unions and SNH management to develop packages that will help the organisation survive the politically motivated move.
Alan Denney, Prospect national secretary, said: "We believe this is the very minimum that Ministers can expect to offer if they are to induce staff to uproot their jobs, lives and families, and for SNH to continue operating."
Albie O’Neill, PCS negotiations officer, said: "The result of these discussions should be recognised in their context. A fatally flawed Ministerial decision, ignored advice that could have produced similar but better results for Scotland’s people at a lower cost, and an organisation that will struggle to operate for the foreseeable future. The cost to the taxpayer is something which Ministers must explain."
The unions, with support from MSPs of all parties across Scotland, mounted a campaign to challenge the relocation decision after their alternative proposal to disperse posts across Scotland on a voluntary basis, at minimal extra cost, was ignored by Ministers. This position was recently vindicated by the findings of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee’s investigation of the Scottish Executive’s relocation policy.