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Council workers plan rally at City Chambers over cuts and job losses

HUNDREDS of council workers are set to take their protest against cuts and job losses to the City Chambers.

Staff from across the city council are set to lobby councillors at an event being organised by the trade union Unison.

Union leaders claim proposals already on the table will cost up to 2600 jobs at the council and are urging staff who can use flexitime to start their shifts at 10am so that they are able to attend the rally.

It is set to be the biggest show of union opposition possible without turning to formal industrial action.

The latest wave of proposals includes reducing wheelie bin collections to fortnightly, closing some care homes and day care services and shutting down more than a dozen public toilets.

The protest is scheduled for later this month - when a new set of proposed savings is expected to be unveiled by council officials. It is being organised for the morning of the next full council meeting, on 16 December, and will also include a protest against privatisation plans that will be debated at the meeting. John Stevenson, president of the Edinburgh branch of Unison, said: "Our main issue is that people need to be aware of the nature of these cuts and exactly what they are about before it is too late.

"A job lost is a service lost and our biggest worry is the nature of these cuts and the way it is being done."

City council officials have estimated that the second phase of cuts - if approved by councillors - could lead to the loss of upwards of the full-time equivalent of 700 posts and Unison estimates that could be up 1300 staff when part-time workers are included.

The job losses come on top of savings agreed earlier this year that could see 300 jobs go and the plan to ditch hundreds more posts through voluntary early release and retirements.

"Our assessment is that over 2000 jobs could go and we are trying to get the council to clarify exactly what the effect will be," said Mr Stevenson.

The savings in package two and three of the council officials' proposals will only be decided on in February as part of the 2011/12 budget process.

But Councillor Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group on the council, admitted that his group will oppose several of the proposals - especially those that involve cuts to frontline education, health and social care.

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "In today's difficult economic climate, it would be irresponsible for us not to investigate every possibility for increasing efficiency. Throughout the process, we have been very open with the unions and we will continue to speak to them, and staff, about potential changes."

mblackley@edinburghnews.com

 
 
 

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