New website

PLEASE NOTE: With the move to our new website, we are no longer regularly updating this blog. See the latest updates from our website on the right or click here for the new website.

Monday, 28 December 2015

What council cuts really mean - Tell your councillor and MSP 'enough is enough'

UNISON Edinburgh's latest cuts newssheet outlines how the cuts will affect you as a worker and you and your family as citizens.

What the cuts are doing to council staff...
Cutting 2, 000 jobs or around 10% of staff
Threatening compulsory redundancies
No plan to deal with the increasing workloads and stress.

Outsourcing of music instructors
Outsourcing a further 25% of home care work to lower pay providers.
Reducing wages in disability services whilst acknowledging  poor recruitment/ retention levels.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Season's greetings

from UNISON Edinburgh branch secretary Amanda Kerr, officers and staff - especially to those delivering Edinburgh's services over the holiday.

Season's Greetings
A happy and peaceful festive season to all our members. Amidst all the job losses and uncertainty for council workers, we hope you can still have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. You deserve to.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Transformation madness must stop

A new UNISON branch briefing says the acceleration of the City of Edinburgh Council Transformation programme in August from five years to three years created concern but to slash this again in October to 18 months came as a shock.

The madness increased when the latest papers show that the Transformation team must complete all the staff reductions, programmes and reviews (excluding Asset Management) in the next six months.

On top of existing reviews, 28 additional organisational reviews have been announced with no chance of 'meaningful consultation'. Half of the 1,500 VERA applications have been refusedUNISON is demanding an explanation and a slow down in the process.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

UNISON wins major changes to voluntary severance but fight against compulsory redundancies goes on

UNISON has won major changes to voluntary severance that will improve the terms, extend the time to decide and take away arbitrary deadlines for applying.

The union has also praised the ruling Labour and SNP councillors for working with UNISON to find a better way forward, despite the pressures on them. It also welcomed the support of the Green councillor.

UNISON remains opposed to all cuts and all job losses and we will continue to fight to get the Government to give local government fair funding to protect jobs and services. We will also continued the fight against compulsory redundancies with industrial action if necessary.

But we also know that many members will have applied for, or will be considering voluntary severance/ redundancy.

That’s why we have:-

  • won significant improvements in voluntary release terms (see box)
  • got the timetable extended through organisational reviews so people will know better where they stand
  • pushed for better consultation and information sharing so staff are not kept in the dark
  • kept up the campaign against compulsory redundancies.
  • But compulsory redundancies are still on the agenda and we must keep up that fight through industrial action if necessary.

Hundreds turn out to tell council to keep its pledge on redundacies

Hundreds of union members and members of community groups turned out this morning to tell Edinburgh councillors to stand up for local services. Branch president John Stevenson told the rally: "If compulsory redundancies come, against the council's own pledge, it is of the councillors' own making. They are cutting too fast and they don't have to."

He also called for fairer funding for local services: "10,000 council workers require protection of vulnerable groups (PVG) clearance to do their jobs. That’s how many provide direct services to children and vulnerable adults. That's what we are talking about when we are talking redundancies. It is time for the Scottish government to fund councils properly.

Amanda Kerr
"Rightly there is a task force to fight for steel jobs. But where is the government task force for the 40,000 jobs lost in local government? We say to Holyroodt, stand up for local government. We say to the councillors elected to protect our services, stand up for local government."

UNISON has a deputation in the council meeting. See the meeting online at

Amanda Kerr, UNISON Edinburgh branch secretary, told councillors:  "Five weeks ago the committee deferred making a decision on the dropping of their pledge until there was more clarity and a clear and evidenced need for them to do so. That clarity is still not there."

"We are told that voluntary redundancy and VERA are unlikely to achieve the required numbers. We weren't aware the chief executive had a crystal ball but if he does he could maybe lend it around the staff so they can find out if they will have a job or not!"

UNISON and council staff still don't know where the redundancies are to come from as they still have not seen any structures. “With so little detail is it any wonder staff are not coming forward?”, asked Amanda.

"The development of organisational reviews and the processes for staff applying for severance will all take time. The speeding up of these processes will not work and it is inevitable that in doing so mistakes will be made."

Amanda also warned about pressures on staff left behind and the vacuum left by a lack of managers: "What will happen to the staff and services left behind?  With 27% of managers going who will manage these processes and support staff through them?”, she said.

Staff Side Secretary Tom Connolly thanked the politicans who had engaged with the unions but slammed the pace of change as 'too fast'. The lack of information and meaningful consutation was making staff feel more vulnerable.

Tom criticised the lack of proper equlity impact assessments especially when the majority of affected staff are female and many service users are disabled. "The most vulnerable are suffering from the austerity myth", he said.

Tom stressed the need for proper political control. Tom slammed the issueing of the formal redundancy notice by officials without pre-warning to the unions or the politicians.

"The trade unions expect elected members who are conveners and vice conveners ensure that their directors follow the rules of engagement We will hold elected members to account", warned Tom.

Tom said the council needed a medium and long terms strategy to protect jobs and services. In the immediate future the council needed to mitigate the effects of austerity and redundancies by making the most of low interest rates to re-finance PFI contracts and in the long terms it needed to look at how it manages the financial burder of debt.

"The impact on jobs equates to a negative impact on services and on the constituents you represent", he told councillors.

Tom warned of industrial action in the event of compuslory redundancies. From now on the unions' expectation would be: "To slow the pace of cuts, ensure meaningful consultation and full elected member oversight."

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Keep Your Pledge UNISON tells councillors - Lobby against cuts and redundancies 29 October

A reminder of our lobby from 08.45 - 09.45 at Edinburgh City Chambers, High St, Edinburgh against £140 million in council cuts, 2,000 job losses and compulsory redundancies. See you there!

UNISON is demanding that Labour and SNP councillors keep their no compulsory redundancy pledge.

Twin demos on 29 Oct in Edinburgh and Glasgow against cuts

Trade Unions including UNISON, community groups and anti-cuts organisations are gearing up for twin demonstrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow on October 29 against another ‘savage’ round of council cuts.

The Edinburgh lobby will be from 08.45 to 09.45 on Thursday 29 October at the City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh.

The Glasgow lobby will be from 12 noon on Thursday 29th October at the City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow.

In Edinburgh, where the council’s income has dropped by almost 20 per cent in real terms since 2010, workers face another slashing of £140m with over 2,000 jobs to go.
Unions are calling on the council to declare a “no more cuts” budget.

Glasgow faces cuts of £103 million and 3,000 jobs over two years. This follows cuts of £250m and 4,000 jobs lost since 2010, hitting learning disability and mental health services, home care, supported education for children, community work, cleaning, library services and voluntary organisations.

UNISON Edinburgh branch president John Stevenson said: “Some telling figures expose the human effect of these savage cuts. Edinburgh has around 18,000 employees. Most of them — about 10,000 workers — require protection of vulnerable groups (PVG) clearance to do their jobs. That’s how many provide direct services to children and vulnerable adults. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that those services are at risk.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Exposing myth of need to rush to redundancy

There is a spin being played by the senior officials that the world ends on 1 April 2016 if 2,000 staff are not made redundant by that date. The greatest concern is that our 'Member Led' council appear to be accepting the myth.
Lobby against cuts Thurs 29 Oct. 08.45 - 09.45 City Chambers, High Street
They say that if there are 50 or 250 people still in the redeployment pool or still in post, the council’s financial position will worsen and more cuts will be required.

Senior officials claim that staff are under too much anxiety and that staff would rather go now. To ease your worries they are moving a five year program to six months. This is not beneficial to staff or to the services that you provide.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

UNISON tells council: Keep your no compulsory redundancy pledge

UNISON is urging members to turn out in force on 29 October to lobby councillors to keep their no compulsory redundancy pledge. See the pdf of the briefing at

And in a show of unity, our colleagues in the Glasgow City Branch will be lobbying their council on the same day.

The Council’s Capital Coalition (Labour/SNP) made 53 pledges when it was elected in 2012. In the latest update to Pledge 26, the Council said: “We have a policy of no compulsory redundancies. There have not been any since we made the pledge.

“All efforts have been made to redeploy surplus staff. We are monitoring the policy on a case by case basis, to make sure it is still business and cost effective.”

The officials have a report going to the Finance and Resource committee on 29 October requesting that the councillors drop this pledge and leave it to the officials to decide how many staff are made compulsory redundant.

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

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.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Voluntary Severance Edinburgh Council - Info for members

As you will be aware the City of Edinburgh Council is looking to replace the current Voluntary Release (VR) Terms with a new Voluntary Severance Scheme.

UNISON has examined the proposals and, despite Council claims of an ‘enhanced’ scheme, the terms are either very similar to the basic statutory minimum or slightly better. Having sought legal advice there is no general claim of discrimination in terms of the scheme offered but we will closely monitor how it is being implemented.

The existing VERA and VR terms still apply for now and the new terms will not apply until approved by the Council’s Finance and Resources Committee in September. Details, and the all important timescales, will be available on the Council Orb.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Job opportunity at UNISON Edinburgh

We're looking for an Organiser/Caseworker, £34,624 pro rata 17.5 hours per week for 11 months. Closing date extended to 17 July. Click here for full details on our website.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Council Transformation - Be champions of services not cuts

Statement on Edinburgh 'Transformation' by Amanda Kerr UNISON Branch Secretary.

UNISON has major concerns about this report to council.

With so little details can councillors honestly put hand on heart and say they they fully understand exactly what they are signing up to?

Whilst we can see how the report lays out a mini council approach, it is extremely unclear what lies beneath? Where does almost 1000 jobs disappear from and how was this figure arrived at?

Time for government to stop starving councils

UNISON warns Edinburgh councillors to be sure what they are signing up to

UNISON is urging City of Edinburgh councillors meeting today to ‘be sure what they are signing up to’ when they consider plans for almost 1,000 job losses and cuts of £107 million.

“The plans before the council are so vague and so lacking in detail that councillors are unlikely to know exactly what they are voting for when it comes to delivering services. They need to be sure what they are signing up to”, UNISON will tell councillors.

“After years of £90million cut upon £90million cut and a 20% reduction in funds, another £107million cut will mean whole services are likely to vanish”, Amanda Kerr, UNISON Edinburgh branch secretary.

“It is time for Governments at Westminster and Holyrood to stop blaming councils for cutting services while starving them of the money to provide those services.”

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Job at UNISON Edinburgh

We're looking for an Organiser/Caseworker, £34,624 17.5 hours per week pro rata for 11 months. Closing date 3 July. Click here for full details on our website.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Edinburgh cleaning in crisis

There is currently a crisis in Facilities Management and in particular, the cleaning service. Click here for latest bulletin (pdf).

Staff who leave or who are off sick are no longer being replaced, even by agency staff. Combine this with an overtime ban and we are left with schools and council buildings facing a 30% or 40% reduction in hours, leaving staff to clean more classrooms or cook more meals

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Please do the survey

You may have recently received a letter from UNISON inviting you to take part in a survey about how you feel about your work,pay and conditions. Can I please urge you to complete and return the survey as your views are extremely important to us.

The results of the survey will help us to campaign for better pay and conditions for you and to campaign on the issues that matter most to you. They will help us to keep UNISON on the map as the union for local government and other vital public services.

Completed surveys need to be returned by 24 April 2015 in the pre-paid envelope that will be provided. The results of the survey will be compiled into a report and made available on the UNISON website.

Thank you very much for your help with this important research.
Best wishes,
Amanda Kerr
Branch secretary

Friday, 27 March 2015

UNISON welcomes decision in Edinburgh social work contempt of court case

UNISON Scotland today welcomed the decision by the Court of Session that the conduct of social workers in Edinburgh City Council did not amount to contempt and that the decision of the Sheriff is quashed.

John Stevenson of UNISON’s City of Edinburgh Branch said: "The court has recognised complex and difficult decisions social workers have to take in their work in protecting the welfare of children. We hope this decision will assist in providing some clarity for them in exercising their duty in good faith to hold the child's interests as paramount".

"UNISON backed our members from the beginning and we are glad that the long months of uncertainly are now over for them. We have already briefed our members throughout Scotland as this process has continued and we will further brief them on any implications for practice arising from this judgement. We would also acknowledge the support and assistance the City of Edinburgh Council gave to our members throughout this matter”

1. The full decision of the Court of Session can be read here

2. UNISON’s statement at the time of the decision setting out our concerns over the Sheriff’s decision  

Friday, 13 March 2015

Thanks for attending the AGM

Many thanks for attending the recall AGM on 12 March, especially in such awful weather. The branch can now step forward and deal with the host of issues facing us in the coming year.

The whole point of a union is that, whereas individuals can make little difference of their own, they are a force to be reckoned with when they join together. That came over loud and clear at the AGM.

There were great and at times emotional contributions from a range of members on serious issues and more reports will follow in the next few days.

In the meantime thanks again to stewards for putting thr work in and members for turning out to ensure our branch can keep going forward.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Recall AGM 12 March

The AGM on 26 February was short of the 200 members needed to. Thanks and apologies to the 168 members who did attend. Please make every effort to attend the meeting on 12 March. Links to AGM documents are below or go to

AGM 2015 Calling Notice, Agenda and 2014 Annual Report  (pdf) - Please note the online version has important updates and corrections to the printed version including an updated treasurer's report

Click here for large print version in Word format

Click here for the Supplementary Agenda with election candidates' biographical details and amendments to motions (pdf)

UNISON website blocked on council system

It appears a fault with the Edinburgh Council IT system is currently blocking the UNISON Edinburgh website. For updates in the meantime and info on the recall AGM, check out this blog.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Victory for part time staff unsocial hours payments

After months of pressure from UNISON, the Council has agreed that part time employees can now claim unsocial hours payments (UHPs) for additional hours worked that attract these payments up to 36 hours per week.

UHPs should be claimed by the employee then approved by their their manager who can also approve backdated claims for work from 1 November 2014 to 31 January 2015.

Tom Connolly, UNISON Assistant Secretary, said: "UNISON had long argued that it was a nonsense that some part time staff were being paid less than full time colleagues.

"For example, if someone worked 30 hours and was asked to do six hours extra, they got paid less per hour for those six hours."

"A variation of the 'Modernising Pay' scheme is very rare and we are really glad that UNISON's tenacity has paid off for these members."

Freespace staff vote for UNISON recognition

Staff at Freespace Scotland have voted resoundingly for union recognition in the workforce of 137.

Only three people voted against recognition of UNISON in an ACAS organised ballot of all staff and the legal 40% threshold was passed.

The Branch is now setting about organising stewards and members' meetings and looking to recruit even more members.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

AGM supplementary agenda now online

Branch AGM Thursday 26 Feb 18.00. Supplementary Agenda now online with election candidates' biographical details and amendments. The AGM will be held at 6pm on Thursday 26 February 2015 in the Augustine Church, George IV Bridge Edinburgh. For full details of the AGM

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Cleaning staff don't sign your rights away

Some Edinburgh Council cleaning staff will have recently been approached by their line manager asking them to reduce their hours or take voluntary early release (VERA). Further consultation is required over this with management but in the meantime only note your interest and do not sign your
rights away. Click here for a briefing

Thanks to all who joined the lobby

A big thank you from UNISON Edinburgh to all those who turned out to lobby against council cuts this morning.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Lobby against the cuts 12 Feb

UNISON members will lobby Edinburgh Council on 12 Feb at 08.30 at the City Chambers against cuts that could mean the loss of 1200 jobs.

Edinburgh Council faces even more cuts this year on top of the millions already cut year after year. Our local services can’t survive any more of this.

40,000 jobs have been lost in local government across Scotland in recent years. In any other industry that would bring political calls for a rescue package.

These jobs are people. It is people that provide council services like cleansing, home care, public safety, roads, trading standards, child protection, residential homes and much much more.

The cuts also affect workers in the voluntary sector who provide services for the public. In fact the cuts affect everyone in Edinburgh. The vicious circle of cuts, less money in the economy and less tax coming in leads to even more cuts.

Everyone is worse off. Council workers, the people that rely on council services and local businesses.

The cuts are dressed up as a reorganisation but they are still cuts. Nobody is against better ways of providing public services but the nature of local services is that they need people to provide them.

A computer can’t deliver home care. The internet won’t collect the bins. That takes people and 1,200 of them could go with those left behind under intolerable pressure to carry on trying to deliver your services.

UNISON represents the people who deliver your services. Join us now to tell the council that we support Edinburgh’s services and we want them to do the same!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

UNISON Submission to Edinburgh Finance and Resources Committee

The branch had a deputation along with Unite at today's Council committee that was looking at the reorganisation and cuts plans. Below is the submission made by John Stevenson, Branch President:

UNISON appreciates the position the Council finds itself in a result of the austerity agenda and the long term failure of central government to address local government funding.

We have highlighted the loss of 40,000 jobs across local government in recent years and the effect that has on services and the workloads of the remaining staff. In any other industry that would bring political calls for a rescue package.

We have also highlighted the failure of austerity cuts that create a vicious circle of more cuts while making the economy worse - but this morning we want to focus on four of the broad areas in the papers being considered.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Reminder of AGM deadlines this week

UNISON City of Edinburgh's Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 26 February 2015, Augustine Church, George IV Bridge Edinburgh, 6pm to 8pm at the latest
Noon Wednesday 14 January 2015
A form is available by contacting the branch office

Noon Friday 16 January 2015

CRECHE: Closing date -
Noon, Wednesday 18 February 2014

AGENDA ISSUED: To be mailed -
The full Annual Report and Agenda will be published on the website from Monday 2 February 2014. Members can request a hard copy by emailing the branch office or phoning 0131 558 7488

Noon, Wednesday 18 February 2014

Click here for more details and Preliminary Notice PDF on the branch website

Friday, 9 January 2015

UNISON slams Edinburgh 1200 job cuts dressed up as reorganisation

UNISON has reacted angrily to Edinburgh Council’s announcement of 1,200 job cuts over four years. The union has slammed the ‘dressing up’ of cuts as part of so-called new ways of working.

UNISON Edinburgh branch president John Stevenson, said: “These job cuts have come as a body blow to workers who have been struggling for years to maintain front line services despite cut after cut. Dressing this up as new ways of working cannot disguise the reality of cuts to front line jobs and services.

“UNISON will hold the council to its no compulsory redundancy pledge. But if people take go voluntarily, we have to speak up for the staff left behind. In many areas where people directly serve the public we are seeing increased levels of stress. A loss of a further 1,200 jobs will only make this worse as people are again asked to do more with less.

“These are not ‘roles’ as the council says. They are people delivering a service. This is not about a ‘Tesco’ council as some reports say – at least we hope not because Tesco is losing money and shutting stores.”

Branch secretary Amanda Kerr added: “At least half of the posts being cut are front line staff delivering direct services. Two per cent of front line service delivery posts will be cut along with 500 front line team leaders and specialist posts. These are not managers sitting in offices, these are people directly providing services.

“Many more are in customer service. It almost beggars belief that the council expects to improve customer service by cutting customer service jobs. Of course people want to access services on the web but they also want to speak to a person when they need to.”

UNISON’s Tom Connolly who is also staff side secretary for all the Edinburgh council unions, said: “The report is riddled with assumptions, hopes and ambitions but precious little evidence. We are also worried that it displays a lack of understanding of some ‘roles’ and how services need to be delivered.”

“We also concerned that the report leaves the door open for back-door privatisation and hints at challenging the council’s no compulsory redundancy pledge.

“UNISON will engage with the council on its plans but we will also consult our members on what they want us to do. Our annual general meeting in February will decide what we do to resist these further attacks on our members and Edinburgh’s services.”

John Stevenson admitted some sympathy for the council due to central government cuts but called for councillors to stand up for services:

“We have some sympathy for the council because it is cuts from Holyrood and Westminster that are causing the problem. 40,000 jobs have been lost across Scottish councils. If that had been any other employer, politicians would have been queuing up to demand action and a rescue plan. The least that councillors can do is stand up for services and not pretend they can go on cutting and cutting. They should publish a budget that shows what services could look like if these cuts were not being forced.

“We call again for the Scottish Government to make emergency funding available to councils pending the funding review. After all, Holyrood underspent by £444 million last year while presiding over cut after cut to local services and jobs.”

Thursday, 8 January 2015

UNISON’s initial response to City of Edinburgh draft budget

Having given the proposals contained within the City of Edinburgh’s draft budget for 2015/16 careful consideration and consulted upon them, UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch would wish to make the following observations on behalf of its membership.

Firstly, UNISON has consistently been clear that there is a political alternative to further cuts and that implementing cuts contributes to a vicious circle of less money in the local economy and ironically even more cuts. This does not just affect the council but creates problems across the whole local economy.

UNISON is keenly aware that the legal choices available to the council are limited due to the austerity measures imposed by the Westminster government and the priority decisions taken by the Holyrood government. The latter has seen Local Government carry the lion’s share of cuts with the loss of up to 39,000 jobs across Scotland with that potentially doubling in coming years.