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Date 3 June 2009

Unions react angrily to Edinburgh 'back to the future' threat of cuts and privatisation

The main unions representing City of Edinburgh Council workers, UNISON, Unite, GMB and UCATT, have reacted angrily to a leaked document outlining cuts, job losses and privatisation as the council faces a 92 million shortfall.

They have warned that services will suffer and Edinburgh will be thrown deeper into a recession as investment drops in essential public services.

UNISON's Kevin Duguid, who is secretary for the joint unions, said, "At a time when investment to stimulate Edinburgh's economy has never been more crucial, we are facing unprecedented cuts which will tear the heart out of our local services.

"Do politicians never learn the lessons of the past? The disaster of outsourcing and privatisation in the NHS, the shambles of a privatised rail infrastructure and the failures of compulsory tendering in councils across the country. Add to that the costs over the years of having to bring these services back in-house or having to bail out private care homes and you can see just how short-sighted this plan is", he added.

The unions say this is 'back to the future' by returning to the defragmented service provison that led to councils taking over services in the first place.

"Council staff have delivered efficiency after efficiency over recent years, saving millions for the council and the government. The thanks they get is that their jobs and their pay and conditions are at risk of going out to the lowest bidder. We all know this is not efficiency, it just makes profits at the expense of workers and damages continuity through short term deals", said Mr Duguid.

The unions warned that any threat of redundancies would be met with massive opposition and ballots for action.

Kevin Duguid again: "The sad thing is that council officials had shown good faith by consulting with the unions very early on in this process. That has been undermined by the leak. It is time to get back round the table and talk sensibly about how we can work together to protect jobs and services".

ENDS

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