Unions blast move to axe city council jobs

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UNION bosses have blasted plans to axe hundreds of frontline posts at the city council under plans for the most radical overhaul of local government in nearly two decades.

Detailed blueprints have revealed more than 300 “delivery and support” roles face the axe, with around 220 customer service positions also set to be chopped amid a drive to process as many public queries online as possible.

And a further 695 management and supervisor posts will be cut as city bosses bid to save almost £50 million over the next five years.

Union leaders warned the plans would come as a “body blow” to public workers struggling to maintain services.

John Stevenson, of the Unison City of Edinburgh branch, said: “Dressing this up as new ways of working cannot disguise the reality of cuts to frontline jobs and services.

“In many areas where people directly serve the public we are seeing increased levels of stress. A loss of a further 1200 jobs will only make this worse as people are again asked to do more with less.”

Unite chiefs said the latest moves reflected intense pressure caused by the Capital’s £1.2 billion debt mountain, cuts in Holyrood’s block grant and the Scottish Government’s near-£450m underspend.

Peter Lawson, convener for the union’s city council branch, said: “Taken together, these three problems, along with the continuing freeze of the regressive council tax, are creating an unbearable strain upon the council.”

Opposition politicians said the cuts highlighted the need for Edinburgh to have more control over its sources of 
revenue.

Councillor Gavin Corbett, finance spokesman for the city’s Greens, said: “How much better to be able to have a visitor levy as do other European cities, a workplace parking levy as in Nottingham, or a supermarket levy as in Northern Ireland. In other words to raise money to be able to invest in services at the same time as re-organising them.”

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance leader, admitted the changes would be a challenge but said they were essential to creating a “stronger, leaner, more agile council”.