Union leaders have described a barrage of cuts to the terms and conditions of workers at East Dunbartonshire Council as “devastating” – and say public services will suffer as a result.
Cleaners jobs may be at risk, they warn, and say many other low paid staff will bear the brunt of the £1.3 million in savings voted through by Lib Dem and Conservative councillors at last week’s budget meeting.
The cuts are part of a range of measures to save £13.6m and balance the books.
A union spokesperson said services for residents would also suffer as a result as they “cannot be sustained under the proposed changes.”
According to unions, as well as the threat to jobs by cutting cleaning maintenance services by £370,000, council employees are having their holidays cut – with the option to buy them back as part of a “holiday purchase” scheme.
A union spokesperson said: “This will also have a significant effect on the majority of women workers, particularly single parents, who will have to find cash to fund childcare costs.”
He added: “These devastating cuts will hit some of the lowest paid staff within the authority – those who can least afford it.”
Hundreds of union members protested outside East Dunbartonshire HQ ahead of the budget meeting, which saw a new Lib Dem/Tory administration take control.
Conservative group leader Andrew Polson and Lib Dem Group leader Vaughan Moody are the new Co-Leaders of the council – a first for East Dunbartonshire and the first ever Conservative Council Leader for the local authority area.
As part of the £1.3m cuts, council workers also face cuts to overtime pay and an increase in their working day.
The news comes hard on the heels of cuts to council workers’ voluntary redundancy terms in November, also pushed through by Lib Dem and Conservative councillors, and without consultation with the workforce.
This resulted in the SNP minority administration walking out and trade unions suspending their involvement in the council’s partnership working process.
The UNISON spokesperson said: “We have tried to exhaust every possible avenue to maintain our involvement in this process, including seeking meetings with all the relevant political groups within the council.
“We cannot enter into a situation whereby the very nature of collective agreement is subject to the constraint of accept or we implement.
“We now face devastating cuts. Council services cannot be sustained under the proposed changes. The staff have already shown that they are going above and beyond to deliver vital services with their jobs constantly under threat of redundancy.
“I hope residents support us in our action. Despite a rise of three per cent to their council tax, they may well still lose services due to a potential reduction in staff.”
In response, Co-Leader Vaughan Moody said: “All council budget proposals are Equality Impact Assessed to ensure that they do not impact any employees disproportionately. We understand the huge and significant impact of these decisions on our workforce and have committed to working with trades unions as we progress them and to fully support employees as they are implemented.”
Co-Leader Andrew Polson said: “The budget for 2018/19 required savings of £13.6m to be found against a backdrop of savings equating to £73m since 2008/9. Whilst extremely difficult decisions had to be made, we were able to balance the budget with no compulsory job losses, no outsourcing of services and no cessation of services.”