23 November 2009
Work together to save services or face biggest
dispute Edinburgh has ever seen
UNISON, the largest union representing City of
Edinburgh Council staff has warned that 'bad faith'
in consultation about cuts could lead to huge disruption
as the union fights to save Edinburgh's local services.
In a promised consultation exercise, UNISON had
appointed lead stewards in all departments to work
with senior officials and had meetings with council
chiefs. Now union leaders say that press statements
by council leaders and reports back from stewards
have convinced them that the consultation is a 'sham'.
In a letter to council leader Jenny Dawe, the union's
Service Conditions Convener John Ross points to
the fact that unions and the council were meant
to be working together to minimise the effect of
government cuts but slams the consultation process
as "rhetorical" and accuses the council of preferring
to advise staff of redundancies "through the media
rather than through established dialogue with the
He criticises this as a "cavalier approach" to
industrial relations, saying the consultation has
been "little other than lip-service".
Edinburgh UNISON President John Stevenson warned,
"Edinburgh faces its biggest crisis ever with huge
cuts in services. These services are provided by
people. People like home helps, social workers,
road workers, environmental staff and workers in
trading standards, education, early years and public
"They are not highly paid - some are already the
lowest paid in Scotland and under the council's
pay plans that would get worse. They get no big
bonuses, no cheap mortgages and, at an average of
£3,800 a year across the UK, no 'gold-plated' pensions.
The very jobs that hold the city together are under
"These cuts will affect everyone. Those who depend
on the services, the staff that provide them and
the private companies that depend on council contracts.
These cuts are no way to build out of a recession.
"The union will work with the council but not if
the consultation is in bad faith. We are prepared
to join with them to stave off the worst effects
of these huge cuts. But if they are not prepared
to work with us, we will fight for our members and
"That would be painful for our members and the
public and remember our members are the public too.
But we would have no choice. And with so many issues
at stake, it could be the biggest dispute that Edinburgh
has ever seen".
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