This year’s City of Edinburgh Council budget meeting descended into farce as councillors voted for other parties’ budgets and ended up with a budget that most did not want and, if acted upon, could see compulsory redundancies and privatisations in our council.
Our branch reps and officials were first off the block to challenge both the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive at the council “thank you event” for workers, held at the Assembly Rooms the day after the budget farce . Both stated that the budget did not set council policy and that they were working to ensure that these items would not be acted upon. Despite these apparent assurances our branch issued a consultative ballot which last week returned a resounding 94% willingness for Industrial Action over these issues.
Unite the Union has been working on reversing privatisation for years. Recently our branch’s pledge to agency workers in Waste and Cleansing (given during the pay dispute in August 2022) has seen over 40 offered permanent council jobs and a programme of rolling recruitment enacted to reduce agency use in Waste and Cleansing to under 10%. We will be monitoring this closely as well as continuing our press for the remunicipalisation of many of the services outsourced over the past few decades.
Unite, GMB and unison are campaigning for Public Services in Edinburgh and hope this will see positive results for our city and the workers who serve it. A media release has been issued accordingly:
Edinburgh Joint Trade Unions launch campaign, calling on City of Edinburgh Council to give workers job security.
Postal ballots are being sent to all Unite members on Monday 27th March and the election period will end on 25th April. You will receive, along with your ballot paper and pre-paid envelope, a booklet containing a full list of candidates, their statements and branch nominations
All members are urged to vote in this election to decide who runs our union.
There are over 70 seats on our executive committee and you will be able to vote for Territorial reps (Scotland), Sectoral reps (mostly Local Authorities but some can vote in other sectors like construction) and equalities reps (Young members, LGBTQ+, Disabled members, Ethnic Minority members).
Brian is standing for Workers, Public Service and Decency in the economy. We ask you to vote for someone you can talk to and you can hold to account. If you want to learn more about Brian’s views check out his blog.
There is a powerful contingent from Scotland and our Public Sector seeking to ensure our union is effectively run for the good of our members:
Sylvia Stewart (NHS) seeking election as Territorial rep
Eddie Cassidy (Glasgow City Council) seeking election as Territorial rep
Jenny Douglas (Dundee City Council) seeking election as LGBTQ+ rep
Carolanne Watson (Finance) seeking election as Finance and Legal rep
Brian Robertson (City of Edinburgh Council) seeking election as Local Authorities’ rep
If you wish to have more information on this election the members first website has information that may help you decide. Alternatively, you may contact branch rep Marilyn Moore on 07388928540 to ask any questions and discuss the issues important to you.
Below are links to some of the key media reactions to the 4th August announcement by Unite the Union that City of Edinburgh Council Waste Workers will take strike action during the Edinburgh festivals.
The Edinburgh Festivals can be difficult to navigate so here are some festival events that have been recommended to us as worthwhile. If you would like to recommend a show, comment on a show or write a review please do so using the “leave a reply” field at the foot of the page.
Beg For Me
Underbelly, Bristo Square, Venue 302: 3rd to 29th August, 1pm. Tickets from £7
Against the backdrop of the storming of the US Capitol this show explores themes of misogyny, Alt-Right and digital extremism.
Unite the Union gave notice today (4th August 2022) that members in Waste (Refuse Collection, Street Cleansing and Recycling Centres) will down tools as of 5am on 18th August and return to work from 4.59am on 30th August.
This action has been forced upon our branch members by the lack of any additional pay offer following the insulting 2% offer made in early spring and cost of living rises reducing the value of their pay.
Waste Workers in Edinburgh have no wish to cause disruption to citizens, tourists and businesses but have been left with no option following the radio silence from CoSLA and the only thing coming out of the scottish government being the old rhetoric of blaming Westminster. Our Waste Workers (Heroes of the Pandemic every one) know full well the scottish government has the capability to support our cash strapped councils to deliver a decent pay rise to council workers.
Further action will occur across Scotland as Unite members in other councils and other unions follow the lead of our Edinburgh Unite Waste Workers. and school workers look to commence their actions.
Unite members in Schools and Waste across the country have sent a resounding message to councils, cosla and that scottish government that they will not sit back and accept the attempt to push them into poverty through a much lower than inflation pay increase.
These are the workers who kept our country going throughout the pandemic. Those who were clapped on Thursday evenings until people got bored of it.
They are the School Cleaners (the Infection Control Teams), the Refuse Collection, Civic Site and Street Cleansing Workers (the Disease Prevention Units), the School Janitors (the Security and Safety Squads), the School Caterers (the Health and Nutrition Corps), the School Administrators (the Information Security Sections), the Pupil Support Workers and School Technicians (the Education Enablement Divisions).
They are also amongst the lowest paid workers in local government and consequently some of the most acutely affected by the Cost of Living Crisis.
Across the country Unite members in 26 of the 32 Scottish Local Authorities, including our own council, have sent this message. See the Unite the Union main website for more details.
Our branch message to these Key Worker Heroes of the pandemic must be that we all support them in the action that they take as they are the Heroes of our pay dispute and will press the point to the scottish government, cosla and our council that council workers must be given A DECENT PAY RISE.
The media is regularly talking about the cost of living crisis and, as consumers, we can see this clearly in price increases in shops, petrol stations, energy bills etc. However, whilst we know everyday costs are rising, we don’t have a clear picture of what this means to our wages and therefore our purchasing power. Nor can we see clearly what a pay rise may mean for us in this context, in both immediate and longer runs.
The straightforward logic says that if inflation is at 11.7% then anything lower than this is a pay cut. Certainly, the paltry 2% offer from CoSLA looks very much like a pay cut but we feel that some hard numbers are required to support this notion.
In an attempt to get a better understanding of this problem we looked at a sample of jobs in the City of Edinburgh Council that pay less than £25,000 per annum for a 36 hour working week. We used the current pay (defined by the CEC pay and grading structure April 2021) as a baseline. Grades 2 and 3 used pay at the top of the grade, for grades 4 and 5 the mid-point was selected. Pay used in this analysis is that before deductions. Table 1 below shows the current grade and full-time (i.e.36hrs) pay for each of the identified council roles.