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UNISON TO CHALLENGE EDINBURGH COUNCIL ON CUTS AND NEW DAMNING EVIDENCE ON PRIVATISATION PLANS

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UNISON will call for an immediate halt to privatisation at Edinburgh City Council at a lobby of the Council tomorrow (16th December) after it was revealed that two of the private bidders had not revealed criminal convictions arising from fatal workplace accidents.

The lobby and demonstration, from 08.30 to 09.30 at the City Chambers, High Street Edinburgh, will hear of a catalogue of concerns about private contract bidders and will raise concerns that in-house efficiency and cost cutting plans delivered by the Council’s own staff are being ignored.

The Council has reached the half way stage in a £1 billion privatisation programme and councillors are being asked to approve another million pound investment in the tendering process. However, union negotiations have revealed that council officials allowed some bidders to remain in the sell-off process despite failing to respond accurately to repeated calls for full disclosure of previous convictions.

UNISON Edinburgh lead negotiator Kevin Duguid said: “Clearly our members are worried at the prospect of working for private companies with a poor health and safety record. But the problems run deeper. Through either carelessness or intent, these companies have led council officials to believe their hands were clean when that was not the case.

“Edinburgh already has a troublesome relationship with the tram contractor, we don’t need more hassle, disruption and cost. The report to council shows that in-house services are high quality and low cost, lets stop the privatisation nonsense now”

“The new revelations follow councillors not being informed earlier in the year that four companies had received multi-million pound fines for price fixing in public sector contracts. On top of that Connaught, although not shortlisted, went into administration a matter of weeks after passing the council’s finance checks”, added Peter Hunter, UNISON Regional Organiser.

“The Trams saga shows just how important it is to get things right and avoid the risks. The in-house bids are open and transparent and deliver real savings. We believe they are streets ahead on price, quality and risk management. It is time for the Council to abandon this wasteful and risky privatisation adventure and get back to focussing on delivering efficient services with its own staff”, said John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh Branch President.

ENDS

Notes for editors: City of Edinburgh Council will consider the Chief Executives Recommendations on privatisation at its meeting on 16th December. Full copies of the UNISON submission will be available this evening at http://unison-edinburgh.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/AMBsubmissionDec2010.pdf