Hundreds of council jobs under threat, claim unions

East Dunbartonshire Council HQ
East Dunbartonshire Council HQ

Hundreds of East Dunbartonshire Council jobs are under threat as the result of decisions taken in private last month, say unions.

The joint trades unions say they have been given HR1 advance notification of redundancy forms, which affect the equivalent of 624 full-time staff, though the actual figure is nearer 800.

Employees in the roads and neighbourhood services team, which includes janitors, bin men, cleaners and gardeners, are among those affected.

It is thought those who may be offered redundancy will be offered re-engagement by East Dunbartonshire Council, but that may be on reduced terms and conditions.

The Herald revealed details of the planned cuts last month, but the full scale of the impact was still under wraps, as the council said it would not reveal details in the press until individual staff affected had been notified.

However, the joint trades unions group has now written to members outlining the outcome of a meeting they had with the council on November 13, when it says a formal consultation period was started, required by law when dismissals are being considered.

The unions will now be holding a series of meetings with staff. They claim the changes include:

*pay cuts to the lowest paid part-time female workers

*some members facing a 40 per cent pay cut

*employees working 11 hour days as standard

*weekend working without any enhancement

*some services being privatised.

Unison, Unite, Ucatt and GMB say they tried to put forward alternative proposals which they said would deliver significant savings, improve efficiency and minimise the impact on the employees and the council, but say their suggestions were dismissed without being properly costed. The council also refused calls to take the matter to ACAS, they say.

Jim Burnett, Unison convener, said meetings would be held with members in the coming weeks, and the next step would be led by members, adding he could not rule out industrial action.

Mr Burnett said: ‘‘As a member of the Labour Party that a so-called Labour-led administration treat their employees like this is appalling.

“The timing of this is just part of the threatening demeanour adopted by the council to intimidate people into accepting the jobs that are on offer. It’s like a gun to people’s heads.’’

The council’s director of customer services and transformation, Ann Davie, said: “Changes in working practice can be challenging and it is unfortunate that these changes are being misinterpreted. No employee has been served with a redundancy notice.

“Following the council decision to implement a new way of working across neighbourhood services, due process must now be followed to advise employees when their current contracts will end and to provide them with their new contracts which reflect the new working practices.

“If the council is formally notified of planned industrial action, plans will be put in place to address the service impact and put emergency measures in place.

“There has been no formal notification of any planned action.”

The 800 staff affected represents nearly a third of the council’s non-education service workforce.

It is understood that one of the key changes would be a centralisation of the school janitor service, and that the traditional role of one janitor per school may be changed to a centralised pool.

The proposals have caused anger, especially following news of large pay rises for chief officers at the council, whose jobs have been re-evaluated after a six year pay freeze.