Comment: Inevitable that city looks for major cuts

Have your say

There is a mood of militancy among some city council staff as they face up to the prospect of huge job cuts.

That is no surprise given the scale of redundancies that the local authority is being forced to consider in order to balance the books. There will be great sympathy for the workforce who are facing uncertainty at best – and now the real possibility of compulsory redundancies. Those among us who have not been through this worrying and stressful experience, either directly or through a family member, are both lucky and few and far between.

City leaders have made clear that they will do their best to avoid forced job cuts as far as they possibly can, but warn that they are no longer likely to be in a position where they can hold out a guarantee. That is probably as much as anyone can reasonably hope for in the circumstances.

The council, like every other local authority across Scotland and the rest of the UK, has been left with an increasingly huge financial mountain to climb in recent years. Without a dramatic and unexpected change in policy at Holyrood or Westminster that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

That leaves the council with no choice but to make radical changes. With staff costs accounting for well over half of its spending, it is inevitable that the city looks for major job cuts.

There is an expectation that the city will be a model employer – and that is quite right. Compulsory redundancies should remain a last resort. But the overriding priority has to be protecting essential services – the schools, care homes and so on – that we all depend upon.

The unions must tread very carefully here. The council may find that some compulsory job cuts in certain specialist areas are necessary in order to protect spending on frontline services. If they called a strike in those circumstances, against the very principle of compulsory redundancies, they would soon find public sympathy in short supply.