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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Voluntary severance: Updated advice for members as branch seeks to improve terms

UNISON's Edinburgh Branch Committee has instructed negotiators to seek to improve on the Council's proposed terms for people seeking voluntary severance/redundancy.

Any job lost through any voluntary severance system will not be replaced and can only be viewed as a cut to jobs and services or additional work being piled on the staff left behind. We therefore must continue the campaign to oppose job losses in an effort to protect our members.

However, we do understand that many of our members may decide to leave their employment. With this in mind, we will seek to ensure the Council provides clarity to all members of staff to ensure that they are able to make an informed choice and we will be pushing for the best possible terms for any form of voluntary severance.

How councils could limit the damage of cuts and austerity - new UNISON report

UNISON Scotland has launched calling on the Scottish Government, local authorities and public bodies to do all they can to mitigate UK government austerity.

The public services trade union is calling for a range of financial and industrial policies to create investment in Scottish infrastructure, green energy production and jobs.

With interest rates at an all time low, it is cheaper to buy out or refinance PPP / PFI contracts saving up to £12bn; pension funds could be a source of badly needed investment for infrastructure, we need a political consensus on reform of local taxation; and councils should collaborate in using bonds as a means of financing borrowing rather than routinely using the Public Works Loan Board.

See the press release and the full report on the UNISON Scotland site at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2015/sepoct/0923.htm

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Council rejects privatisation. Now to resist compulsory redundancies

Edinburgh Council's Finance and Resources Committee today rejected council officers' plans to privatise Facilities Management. The council also extended talks on redundancies for another month.

Amanda Kerr, Edinburgh UNISON branch secretary, said: “Following concerted UNISON pressure, we welcome this re-think and the dropping of privatisation plans. We also welcome the delay on redundancies, however we still have a long way to go and we will be building for a lobby of the next Finance and Resources Committee on 29 October.

“Our campaign has brought this to the public eye and that campaign will continue. We warned that the level of cuts envisaged would be devastating for services. After years and years of cut after cut, no council can sustain even more massive cuts.” However she also said it was time for the Council to 'lay its cards on the table' about future plans.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Lobby postponed as UNISON campaign brings Edinburgh council re-think

UNISON has postponed its lobby of Edinburgh Council’s Finance and Resources Committee on 24 September following assurances from senior councillors that privatisation plans will be dropped and redundancies delayed for further talks.

Amanda Kerr, Edinburgh UNISON branch secretary, said: “Following concerted UNISON pressure, we welcome this re-think and the dropping of privatisation plans. We also welcome the delay on redundancies, however we still have a long way to go and we will be building for a lobby of the next Finance and Resources Committee on 29 October.

“Our campaign has brought this to the public eye and that campaign will continue. We warned that the level of cuts envisaged would be devastating for services. After years and years of cut after cut, no council can sustain even more massive cuts.”

Lead negotiator Tom Connolly added: “This is an important victory. The damage privatisation would have caused cannot be overestimated. The union will focus on protecting jobs and conditions, engaging with our members and building towards the lobby on 29 October.”

“Our mandate from our members remains. Industrial action remains a real possibility in the event of compulsory redundancies.”

Thursday, 17 September 2015

UNISON urges Edinburgh coalition to stand by principles it was elected upon

As more details emerge today of Edinburgh council plans to cut £141 million over four years, UNISON’s Edinburgh Branch is calling on the council’s ruling capital coalition to stand by the promises of no compulsory redundancies and no privatisation that they were elected upon.

The figures UNISON released yesterday of £141 million in cuts have been confirmed and while the council claims 2,000 jobs will be lost, UNISON stands by its assessment that 3,000 jobs are at risk.

Councillors appear to be actively considering officials’ recommendations to ditch the council’s no compulsory redundancy policy. We note the council leader’s statement in the council meeting today that he expects officials to stick to council policies. This leaves UNISON wondering what is the chicken and what is the egg and whether or not the Capital Coalition of Labour and SNP have signalled to officials that compulsory redundancies may be acceptable.

Councillors also appear to be considering privatisation of Facilities Management with alleged savings of £80 million. On the money front that seems far too good to be true. Surely senior officials and councillors will recognise that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

It is worrying that the lessons of the ditched 2011/2012 privatisation have been lost. UNISON produced evidence upon evidence at that time where privatisation had consistently failed to deliver on promises, contracts were rarely on a ‘like for like’ basis and councils had to take contracts back in house at huge cost.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Edinburgh services face meltdown as UNISON fears over 3,000 job losses and privatisation

UNISON fears that over 3,000 jobs - one in every six Edinburgh council staff and three times as many jobs as first thought- will be slashed as the effects of accelerated budget cuts become clear. This will put the council’s and the Scottish Government's no compulsory redundancy pledge at risk.

The union has also re-launched its ‘Our City’s Not For Sale’ campaign as reports drawn up by officials put privatisation back on the agenda three years after councillors rejected mass privatisation plans.

“The effect of cuts on services and staff will be devastating as at least 15% of council employees could face being forced out of their jobs”, warned Amanda Kerr, UNISON Edinburgh City branch secretary. “Losing this amount of staff will decimate the services we provide and the public rely on to the point where they would be unrecognisable.

“It is now time for the politicians to stand up for the pledges they were elected on and support UNISON in the fight to save public services in Edinburgh for future generations.”

Lead Edinburgh UNISON negotiator Tom Connolly warned of the effect on services: “Every job lost is a service lost, a school closed, a care home closed, young and old put at risk. UNISON will defend these services and any compulsory redundancies will trigger our longstanding policy to ballot members on action.”

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

UNISON says ‘Our City’s still Not For Sale’ as Edinburgh privatisation looms again

In 2012, Labour, SNP and Green councillors combined to stop the wasteful privatisation of Edinburgh Council services after UNISON and the wider community united under the ‘Our City’s Not For Sale’ banner.

Now, officials are drawing up reports for Labour and SNP councillors (who are now the Council’s ruling coalition) that will put privatisation back on the agenda.

Sadly, UNISON is again having to campaign to say ‘Our City’s still Not for Sale’ and is calling on the coalition councillors to ‘Keep Edinburgh Public’ and honour the pledges that got them elected.