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17 December 2009

Unions urge Edinburgh Council to save local economy from unprecedented cuts

As the City of Edinburgh Council meets on 17 December to decide on a huge raft of service cuts, unions will call on the council to ‘work with them to save the local economy, keep jobs in Edinburgh and stop local taxes being exported into the private coffers of big business.’

In a delegation to the council, UNISON’s Kevin Duguid, chair of the joint unions’ committee, will tell councillors, “These are not the council’s services, they belong to the people of Edinburgh. You do not own them, you are just the custodians and you should be fighting with us to protect them”.

The Council plans could involve:-

- shared services, with the possibility of Edinburgh jobs being exported to other councils

- outsourcing and privatising essential services at the very time when the NHS has brought failed contracts back in house and the council itself is bringing some of the tram work in-house.

- Hundreds of redundancies at a time when Edinburgh’s economy needs a boost to bring it out of recession.

“These services are provided by people. People like home helps, social workers, road workers, environmental staff and workers in trading standards, education, early years and public safety. Some will be cut and some – like home helps – sold off to the lowest bidder paying even lower rates so they can take our taxes as profit. Cut the people and you cut the services, it is that simple”, said Kevin Duguid.

“And the whole local economy will be affected. For every £1 a council worker earns, they spend 70p in their local community. Job losses and pay squeezes will put a stranglehold on local businesses and services, cutting off much needed income. Service cuts will affect local contractors and suppliers. The only people to benefit from privatisation – as we see with the bin dispute - will be big conglomerates, taking Edinburgh money out of Edinburgh”, he said.

“These cuts will affect everyone. It is no way to build out of a recession”, said Mr Duguid.

He will call on councillors to work with the unions to:-

- protect services

- call on the Scottish Government to abandon the ‘concordat’ and invest in local services

- call on Westminster to show the same support for local services as they have for the banks.

"Our members are not highly paid - some are already the lowest paid in Scotland and under the council's pay plans that would get worse. They get no big bonuses, no cheap mortgages and, at an average of £3,800 a year across the UK, no 'gold-plated' pensions. In the last five years, their pay rises have been half the average in the private sector.

“They have saved millions in efficiencies. The very jobs that hold the city together are under threat. They and the people of Edinburgh should not have to pay the price for the folly of the bankers”.

“We will be looking for a partnership with the council to save these services today. But failing that, the unions will mount the biggest fight we have ever seen to protect our members’ jobs and the people of Edinburgh’s services”, said Mr Duguid.


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