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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.