WORKERS at the Church of Scotland offices have voted to end the collective pay bargaining agreement with Unite the Union.

A ballot of the 220 staff saw an 80 per cent turnout and a vote of 93 to 80 in favour of an end to the eight-year-old recognition agreement.

The employer will give Unite six months' formal notice of the decision.

The Church said that staff unhappiness with Unite's approach came to the surface following a dispute over pay earlier this year.

The Kirk said that Unite called for industrial action in the first weekend of May's General Assembly, which is a key event bringing together church members from across Scotland.

The union had argued that the division of a pay package that gave all workers the same one-off £300 payment as an annual rise regardless of rank should be abandoned. Instead it wanted payments to be made according to salary level, with lower paid staff given higher awards.

Pauline Weibye, Secretary to the Church's Council of Assembly, said: "Calls for a staff association instead of the trade union have been heeded by the employer.

"We will now be working closely with the whole staff to ensure we have robust collective bargaining arrangements for the future.

"Unite will continue to be able to represent individual staff union members."

The issue only affects staff working for the central administration of the Church, and has no implications for parish ministers.

The Unite representative was not available for comment yesterday.