The leaders of the Lib Dem and Tory groups on East Dunbartonshire Council have defended their decision to vote to cut workers’ redundancy terms.
Last week the Herald reported on the decision to cut the maximum added years for pensionable employees from 10 to three, reduce the maximum discretionary payments from 66 weeks to 30, and introduce a maximum payback period of two years.
It was voted through at a meeting on November 9 by 12 votes to 10 - with SNP, Labour and Independent failing to defeat the Lib Dem motion backed by the Conservatives - ahead of statutory consultation with the workforce.
Unison called the changes a “train wreck” and said it could lead to compulsory redundancies, while council leader Gordan Low said he would seek to overturn the decision.
But Lib Dem group leader Councillor Vaughan Moody defended the changes, saying: “This measure is about protecting local services and jobs.
“East Dunbartonshire currently has one of the most generous redundancy packages amongst all of Scotland’s 32 councils, and this action simply takes them to around the average in Scotland, and involves the statutory consultation laid down in law.
“The current situation is unsustainable within the budgetary constraints continually being faced by the council in the light of a lack of adequate funding from the SNP Scottish Government.
“Out of a spending budget of around £240m, the council currently contributes some £18m in pensions for all its employees, and the redundancy packages have to be paid for by the East Dunbartonshire taxpayer.
“I am sure local taxpayers want their money to be spent on local services and not on the most expensive packages in Scotland.
“So why is Councillor Low not consulting with them? Maybe he knows he wouldn’t like the answer.
“Perhaps they would say the Scottish NHS terms - of no added years or weekly payments - is a better solution.
“If there are any future redundancies it is because the SNP council leader has failed to persuade the SNP government to use its tax raising powers in order to protect public services.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Andrew Polson said his Conservative group were “very happy” to support the motion and criticised the council administration’s “lame duck leadership”.
He added: “We are still offering a great package and in fact a lot more than many SNP/Labour councils across Scotland, and in these very difficult times what we’ve managed to achieve is commendable.”
“The SNP cannot continue as a group in administration and as salaried individuals to sit on their hands and not govern. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s the serious business of local governance.”
Meanwhile, local SNP MSP Gil Paterson also waded into the row, accusing the Lib Dem and Tory councillors of treating council workers with “contempt”.
He added: “What it will do is alienate staff and result in forced redundancies being the only means of making savings in future budgets. That is bad news for all of us who rely on council services.”
The next meeting of the council is on December 21.