1 August 2011
Edinburgh privatisation 'worse than the trams'
say unions as communities take action
Unions have warned that the fall-out from Edinburgh
council's £1billion privatisation plans could be
'worse than the trams', as citizens take things
into their own hands by organising public meetings
across the city to demand answers from the council.
The unions are backing up the meetings with a hustings
on 15 August to give the public a chance to question
candidates in the Central ward by election.
"In the absence of any real consultation by the
Lib Dem/SNP coalition on Scotland's biggest ever
council privatisation project, UNISON held a public
meeting on 27 June. The response was amazing with
most people shocked that they had heard nothing
about plans that would privatise all or part of
just about every council service", said Kevin Duguid,
secretary of Edinburgh council's 'staff side' which
includes the UNISON, Unite and GMB unions.
"Since then, shocked communities have shown what
the real 'big society' is by setting up their own
local meetings to demand answers. "A packed meeting
organised by residents at Meadowbank on 27 July
took councillors to task, with another planned for
2 August. Residents in Southhouse have also called
a meeting for 11 August with reports coming in of
others on the way. People are furious that wholesale
privatisation of their services - mentioned by no
party in their manifesto - is being pushed though
without their say.
"UNISON calls on council tax payers across Edinburgh
to follow the lead of Meadowbank and Southhouse
- organise your own local meeting. We will support
you in calling the council to account".
Edinburgh Unite leader Stephen MacGregor said,
"The council must put the brakes on privatisation
and at least consult properly with communities.
This is a massive decision that will affect Edinburgh's
services for years to come - and one that is almost
certain to come back and bite the council - and
it's the council tax payer and public service worker
that will pay the price.
"Our taxes should be gathered to deliver services
and protect the vulnerable, not to pay profits to
private companies or dividends to shareholders."
John Stevenson, UNISON branch president, "Public
services need to adapt to meet our needs but there
will be little flexibility in a fixed contract and
private companies will charge a fortune for any
"Just like the trams, we could easily end up with
no services while disputes between the council and
contractors drag through court. We could waste millions
on lawyers' fees and - just like the trams - massive
costs if the contracts fail.
"And on top of all that, the council has so far
failed on key legal issues. It has not engaged disabled
people in discussion about access to the new services
as required by law. There has been no assessment
of sustainability issues to ensure that the private
companies protect the environment and develop "greener"
ways to deliver services and reduce carbon emissions.
The people of Edinburgh can't even get to see the
business case because it's secret!"
For further information www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/citynotforsale
to Our City's Not For Sale