Two of the unions most at loggerheads with the Scottish Executive have been given a Government cash hand-out as part of a pound;500,000 initiative to promote workplace learning.
The Educational Institute of Scotland, currently embroiled over pay, has received pound;48,100 to develop "e-learning for teachers". This will involve training for 32 workplace learning representatives, one in each education authority, and the setting up of seven union learning centres across Scotland.
Another beneficiary is Unison, the local government union, which has called off its industrial action over pay for two weeks from next Monday to allow talks to resume. Its share of the Scottish Union Learning Fund is pound;83,950. This will help train up to 30 lifelong learning advisers in the Health Service and local authorities.
The money will also ensure that an initial 100 public sector staff have th necessary skills in information technology to enable them to do their jobs.
A total of 12 union projects have been chosen to take part in what Wendy Alexander, Lifelong Learning Minister, described as "another milestone in the Scottish Executive's lifelong learning strategy". A sum of pound;1.2 million has been earmarked over three years to boost workplace skills.
Ms Alexander said: "Trade unions have a crucial role to play in the learning process, particularly in the workplace environment where they are best placed to foster a culture of lifelong learning."
They will be expected to achieve this in association with employers, colleges and other training providers.
Although there were many more bids for the money than this year's allocation could support, Ms Alexander announced that the fund would be continued into 2003-04 when pound;400,000 will be spent.