Council set to phase out lollipop men and women

Council chiefs have put forward a proposal to phase out ‘dedicated’ school crossing patrol officers.

The move was unveiled at a council meeting on Tuesday night.

Strike action by East Dunbartonshire Council workers was averted at the 11th hour this week following crunch talks with council officials and unions.

Almost 100 bin workers, members of the GMB union, had voted overwhelmingly to down tools in a dispute with the council over terms and conditions.

And up to 400 workers in facilities management across joint trade unions, UNISON, Unite, Ucatt and the GMB, which includes janitors, cleaners and catering staff, had also returned a mandate for industrial action.

As part of the agreement, which was rubber-stamped at Tuesday’s full council meeting, a decision was made to utilise staff from the facilities management team for school crossing patrols when required.

The changes are part of a restructuring of facilities managment services, which does not involve any compulsory redundancies, and will be phased in gradually using ‘natural wastage’.

As a result, when a school crossing patrol officer leaves they will not be replaced and another member of staff from facilities management team will take on their duties.

The proposals, which also affect property maintenance (joiner, electricians and plumbers), streetscene (parks and litter), will deliver savings of £1,189million. This leaves a shortfall in savings of just over £138,000 and further cuts will be needed to bridge the gap.

Bearsden SNP councillor Keith Small said: “I’m unsure about whether janitors, cleaners or catering staff could realistically multitask.

“The safety of kids is paramount and we have to make sure that crossings will be prioritised over other duties.

“I was given assurances at the meeting that this would be the case.

“I think it’s terrible that there appears to have been no consultation with parent councils over this.

“They are simply going to be informed of the decision.”

Council leader Rhonnda Geekie said: “Budget pressures are driving this process. We now begin the process of communicating these new models to the workforce and ensuring they are put in place by the target start dates.”

Jim Burnett, branch secretary of UNISON, said: “We are aware that the council needs to find massive savings and we’ve got to look for every efficiency we can to protect jobs in the long term.”