Union hits out at city council over forced job cuts

Edinburgh City Council have been slammed by Unison. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh City Council have been slammed by Unison. Picture: TSPL
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UNION leaders have accused the city council of reneging on a key promise after proposals were unveiled which would authorise compulsory redundancies in a bid to plug a £126 million black hole.

Bosses at trade union Unison have slammed the plans as “highly regretful” and said the speed of the cuts made it ­difficult to avoid mandatory job losses.

The council wants around 2000 workers to take enhanced voluntary redundancy packages and leave by next June.

However, proposals to be debated by councillors will allow managers to impose compulsory cuts where employees have opted not to take up the new terms within the set timescale.

Union chiefs have stressed a vote on possible strike action is unlikely until staff members receive formal notice that they are to be forced out.

They said the situation was changing “daily” and did not rule out the possibility that information on job losses could emerge in the run-up to Christmas.

John Stevenson, president of Unison City of Edinburgh branch, which counts more than 9000 council workers among its members, said: “Our position is still that they’re making the cuts too fast.

“This is a change in council policy that we would see as highly regretful.

“It’s the council going back on one of its major pledges.”

Mr Stevenson said a special branch committee meeting would now take place to discuss union strategy.

“We do not know where, how and what yet – there’s a major organisational review in place and no-one now knows how this review will go,” he added.

“No-one really knows whether their job is at risk or not. The structures are to be in place by the end of May next year but some will be well before that – it could be much earlier than April or May.”

City chiefs said the time had come to be more “explicit” about the council’s financial position.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance leader, said: “Our overriding responsibility is to provide services to people, particularly people who need them badly. We are now in a position where we need to make some very difficult choices.

“We’re looking to provide an enhanced voluntary package and we will be promoting it in the hope enough people find it attractive.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com