UNISON has reacted angrily to Edinburgh Council’s announcement of 1,200 job cuts over four years. The union has slammed the ‘dressing up’ of cuts as part of so-called new ways of working.
UNISON Edinburgh branch president John Stevenson, said: “These job cuts have come as a body blow to workers who have been struggling for years to maintain front line services despite cut after cut. Dressing this up as new ways of working cannot disguise the reality of cuts to front line jobs and services.
“UNISON will hold the council to its no compulsory redundancy pledge. But if people take go voluntarily, we have to speak up for the staff left behind. In many areas where people directly serve the public we are seeing increased levels of stress. A loss of a further 1,200 jobs will only make this worse as people are again asked to do more with less.
“These are not ‘roles’ as the council says. They are people delivering a service. This is not about a ‘Tesco’ council as some reports say – at least we hope not because Tesco is losing money and shutting stores.”
Branch secretary Amanda Kerr added: “At least half of the posts being cut are front line staff delivering direct services. Two per cent of front line service delivery posts will be cut along with 500 front line team leaders and specialist posts. These are not managers sitting in offices, these are people directly providing services.
“Many more are in customer service. It almost beggars belief that the council expects to improve customer service by cutting customer service jobs. Of course people want to access services on the web but they also want to speak to a person when they need to.”
UNISON’s Tom Connolly who is also staff side secretary for all the Edinburgh council unions, said: “The report is riddled with assumptions, hopes and ambitions but precious little evidence. We are also worried that it displays a lack of understanding of some ‘roles’ and how services need to be delivered.”
“We also concerned that the report leaves the door open for back-door privatisation and hints at challenging the council’s no compulsory redundancy pledge.
“UNISON will engage with the council on its plans but we will also consult our members on what they want us to do. Our annual general meeting in February will decide what we do to resist these further attacks on our members and Edinburgh’s services.”
John Stevenson admitted some sympathy for the council due to central government cuts but called for councillors to stand up for services:
“We have some sympathy for the council because it is cuts from Holyrood and Westminster that are causing the problem. 40,000 jobs have been lost across Scottish councils. If that had been any other employer, politicians would have been queuing up to demand action and a rescue plan. The least that councillors can do is stand up for services and not pretend they can go on cutting and cutting. They should publish a budget that shows what services could look like if these cuts were not being forced.
“We call again for the Scottish Government to make emergency funding available to councils pending the funding review. After all, Holyrood underspent by £444 million last year while presiding over cut after cut to local services and jobs.”