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Date: 29 July 2008

Members call for 'unsafe' Social Work cuts to be exposed and warn action inevitable if staff and clients not protected

Angry front-line children's social work staff last night demanded that UNISON exposes the City of Edinburgh Council 'spin' and makes sure politicians and the public are aware the Council is going back on pledges made after the O'Brien Inquiry.

Furious that previous consultations have been a sham, members also backed action if needed to protect staff and the clients they serve.

"It was a very positive meeting but the anger of staff was evident. Despite so-called consultations and visits fom the Director, our members feel they have not been listened to", said Tom Connolly, UNISON Service Conditions Officer.

"Most of all, they demanded that politicians face up to the results of their actions. The proposed cuts are cuts in font-line services. The staff affected are the key players in child protection and support for staff. The overwhelming message was that this is not safe."

Union officials pointed out that the politicians have set out a budget and told senior managers to get on with it under 'delegated powers'.

"This means that the Council and the public are getting no reports on the cuts", added Tom. "They cannot carry on playing Pontius Pilate while all the progress over the last four years is torn part. UNISON wil make sure the public knows what is going on".

In 2004, the Council set out a plan to rebuild children's Social Work, accepting that not all cases could be allocated, making new funds available and building investment to increase staffing.

"Staff felt supported by that in the crucial job they do. But now these improvements are being removed behind closed doors. Caseloads are higher than ever, front-line managers are under more and more stress and the gap between what the Council thinks is going on and what the reality is, is widening even further", said Tom.

The union is due to meet senior managers today. It will be challenging Council 'spin' about the cuts and its circular to staff that is misleading about the real number of staff in front-line services.






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