Education bosses have made a dramatic u-turn with how they will roll out extended nursery hours – after complaints from disgruntled early years staff.

Last month Union bosses warned of a dispute after staff complained NAC’s gruelling 8am-6pm day pilot, was not working.

The Scottish Government plans to ensure all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds can access 1140 hours of free early years care each year – almost double the current amount of 600 hours – by August 2020.

Each local authority has been allowed to roll out the new hours how they see fit, but in North Ayrshire some nursery staff said they had seen their working hours almost double from six-hour days to 10-hour days with just one half-hour break.

But following crunch talks between council chiefs and Union reps from Unison, Unite and GMB, education bosses a greed to revise their implementation of the 1140 hours but offering full time staff staggered shifts of 8am-430pm/ 8.30-5pm/ 9am-5.30pm.

However one early years worker said more than 170 Early Years practitioners turned out to last week’s meeting and while the majority were in favour of the change, they were told this was the council’s ‘final’ proposal.

She said: “There was certainly a different atmosphere at the meeting, compared with the first one, with a lot more people being vocal in favour of the pilot hours, but then the vote reflected that the majority were in favour of change. The union presented us with the council’s final proposal so there wasn’t much option other than to accept them”

But council leader Joe Cullinane insisted the u-turn was testimony to NAC’s ‘positive approach’.

He told the Times: “Everyone wants to deliver 1140 hours to improve childcare for children and parents but the staffing model is as important as the operational model.

“The Labour cabinet did request that officers in education and HR run a workshop with the trade unions to consider alternative staffing model options to secure a model that works for staff as well as parents and children. Following that workshop an early years staff survey was undertaken and based on the feedback of staff, adjustments to the model were made. We are pleased that the new staffing model has now been supported and this is an example of a council taking a positive approach to working with the trade unions to secure a deal that works for staff.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson added: “We have been working closely with Trade Unions and our staff over recent months to find out what works best for staff, parents/carers and, of course, our children.

“We are now delighted to have reached agreement on this now and look forward to an exciting new era for childcare not only in North Ayrshire but across Scotland.”

The nursery worker - who asked not to be named for fear of losing her job - said because NAC has promised positions to all its own employees who have upskilled to be early years practitioners, she fears it is only a matter of time before she is out of a job.

She said: “I don’t have a contract but do feel supply hours will perhaps be few and far between with the new workers taking up their positions. It’s not fair because you have people, like me, who have been in their positions for a long time and who have put ourselves through college because this is a job we are passionate about, but because they have made all these promises to people who were previously council employees, like cleaners, dinner ladies, they will get priority over full time positions. It’s disheartening.”

An NAC spokesperson added: “We are committed to providing Early Learning Childcare jobs for all employees who successfully complete their training.

“Staff currently on temporary contacts will be considered as part of the annual staffing exercise that is currently taking place across all of our establishments to ensure we have the correct numbers of staff in place to deliver a high quality service to our children and families from August this year."