UNISON’s Edinburgh Council branch has reacted angrily to attacks on council workers by Conservative leader Ian Whyte in the Evening News (18 January), and has urged the public to get behind staff who have worked ‘above and beyond’ throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Tom Connolly, UNISON Edinburgh branch secretary, said: “Councillor Whyte should be praising the work of council staff who have been providing services above and beyond throughout the pandemic. Again this is an example of Conservative hypocrisy, clapping workers on the Thursday then slapping them on the Monday.”
Slamming Ian Whyte’s call for staff to be compulsorily redeployed to tasks ‘like winter maintenance’, Tom Connolly added: “I’m sure the public would have questions to ask if staff were taken off tasks like child protection or environmental protection to clear pavements. The fact is that council workers have volunteered in droves to help out throughout the pandemic, inventing new ways of working and ensuring services are delivered where possible. They deserve thanks not criticism.
“Thankfully, the public see the real picture. They see under-pressure, under-paid NHS ,Social Care & Council staff and all key workers putting themselves on the frontline to help the vulnerable.
“Councillor Whyte’s comments are the more galling given the Conservative austerity onslaught that has seen local government cut to shreds with 50,000 public service jobs cut in Scotland. The local Conservatives should do something meaningful, such as calling for greater public sector investment
“The real lesson the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is not so-called flexibility to cover up cuts. It is that if all public services had been adequately maintained and grown, we would have been in a much better place to respond.
“UNISON stands with our members and all keyworkers and thanks them for all that they have done and continue to do.”