SNP remains the party of workers - Adam Nols-McVey
The team was deleted in the council administration's last budget, taking £600k out of these vital services. The Liberal Democrats have since put out leaflets saying their budget had no education cuts, but unfortunately this is a classic Lib Dem line, it’s far from truthful.
The removal of the team is a direct cut to education. It will undermine the council’s ability to drive up attendance in schools and will push some of the most vulnerable families even further away from accessing essential services to improve young people’s lives.
The night before the crunch vote, Labour told us and the Greens they were ready to U-turn on this and reinstate the team. When it came to it, they buckled to their Tory and Lib Dem partners, reneging on promised talks to find a solution. This team may now face redundancy as a consequence, showing that, when it comes to honesty, this administration is just one big Lib Dem bar-chart.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only example of workers being left behind by the current administration. Labour and their allies voted against the council requiring the real living wage to be paid for all Edinburgh Leisure staff. A few days later they congratulated themselves on their record on the living wage, simply forgetting about those in council-owned facilities not receiving fair pay. When we pushed a vote on this issue, Labour simply echoed the Tory mantra of “fair pay isn’t affordable”.
For us in the SNP, it’s simple. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work. We’ll continue to campaign on this issue until all council contractors, council-owned organisations and groups operating out of council premises pay the real living wage to all staff.
In more positive news, the revised pay offer made to Unison avoided strike action in schools last week. However, before the 11th hour offer cancelled the strike, we got a glimpse of the council’s plans during the potential action. Primaries and special schools were to close but high schools would open - but with a devastating catch. Pupils with additional support needs were asked to stay at home while their friends went back to school. We’re grateful to our dedicated staff who worked to avoid this industrial action taking place, as well as to the Scottish Government for again helping to secure and fund the deal. However, the plans we witnessed exposed the council’s priorities. Young people with additional needs would have been excluded - an unacceptable policy,
This isn’t the only time attempts have been made to exclude kids with additional support needs from education. SNP councillors have now exposed a litany of failures which caused kids needing additional support to be effectively banned from after school clubs. This disgraceful decision was overturned thanks to the tireless work of SNP Cllr Simita Kumar, but again we see the council is deprioritising services that should be sacrosanct.
Labour has bit by bit abandoned their principles, but the SNP will remain steadfast in support of workers and prioritising the council services that transform lives.
Cllr Adam Nols McVey is leader of the SNP group on City of Edinburgh Council