Council jobs under threat

Councillor Mackay
Councillor Mackay

Jobs could be at risk and wages slashed by up to 40 per cent as East Dunbartonshire Council tries to cut another £23 million from its budget.

It’s understood the plan is to ditch the traditional school janitor role and replace them with a mobile site co-ordinator, with the number dropping from 52 – one in every school – to a cluster of just 12.

It’s also understood other neighbourhood services staff, including bin men, maintenance workers, cooks and cleaners could also see changes to their shifts and payments. .

The proposals were voted through by coalition Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors, despite a bid by the SNP, an independent councillor and the unions to hold talks with ACAS to negotiate the changes.

The meeting was held in private, so the Herald has not seen the exact details of what was proposed, but the SNP fear it could lead to compulsory redundancies and, in some cases, workers’ income dropping by 40 per cent.

The tough financial climate means the council needs to cut £23 million over the next three years, on top of £40 million of savings in the past eight years.

Kevin Lawrence, chairman of BalmuildyParent Council, said he could see the need for financial cuts, but was worried about the real impact.

‘‘I cannot imagine any head teacher will be happy with not having a janitor on site. What about if a pipe bursts and there is no-one on hand to cope. Or on a snowy day when every single playground and path is covered – who is going to be able to go round all the schools?’’

Ann Davie, the council’s director of customer services and transformation, said the meeting was held in private as it involved individuals, their salaries and union negotiations.

She added; ’’Council decided to agree the recommendations in the reports heard at Wednesday’s meeting, and arrangements will now be made to advise all employees who might be affected by the outcomes of those decisions.

“Once employees have been advised we will be in a position to confirm any changes to employee levels and the way services are delivered. Janitorial and facilities management services will continue in all our schools, no redundancies have been confirmed and as we have always done, we will work with any displaced employees to find alternative employment.

“All changes in service delivery across the organisation are part of our continuing approach to becoming more effective and efficient as well as finding these further unprecedented levels of savings.”

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “Difficult decisions were taken at last week’s Special Council to begin the process of cutting £23 million from our budget.

“I am extremely disappointed that unanimous agreement couldn’t be reached as further equally difficult decisions are still needed to make the unprecedented savings required.

“The comprehensive budget consultation we carried out from April to July, and reported earlier this month, is informing these tough decisions. It is very easy to put forward suggestions to simply delay a process rather than take action to deliver the budget cuts required.”

Councillor Ian Mackay, SNP group leader on the council, said: “I am saddened by the way the decisions about the changes to the Neighbourhood Services employee’s conditions and job prospects were made - behind closed doors with public scrutiny excluded. As a result, my ability to express my public opposition to the detail of the proposals was completely restricted under censure of suspension from council business.

“Because of the secretive nature of the decision making process I am not allowed to publically discuss detail, but I don’t see any of the supporters of these changes, either the administration councillors or the senior officers, suffering 40 per cent wage cuts, 11 hour shift patterns, 50 per cent weekend working or job losses due to the privatisation of their service”

“As shown during the referendum, democracy in Scotland is about transparency, agreement and engagement by everybody, not just the elite imposing decisions on the workforce.

“Eventually, however, the details will come out and blame for this unwarranted attack on the employees of Neighbourhood Services will be exposed.”