On Thursday, we braved the chill and snow to demonstrate outside the City Chambers in solidarity with fellow trade unionists, activists and concerned citizens as the Council met to approve next year’s budget.
The Council have delivered a balanced budget for 2022/23, thanks to an underspend in 2021/22 and a 3% Council Tax rise, however the forecast for the years following looks bleak, with a gap in 2023/24 of around £55m with this gap increasing around £25m each year thereafter. The Council have said there must be a ‘robust savings plan’—which we know by now, translates to more cuts.
The demonstrators sought to raise awareness of the impact of cuts and call for measures to tackle the crises we face today that will be worsened by further cuts and by failing to change how the Council delivers services. We need a shake up and we need it now.
Unite CEC branch started raising concerns over Health & Safety (H&S) communications in Edinburgh schools in late July 2020, prior to the schools’ re-opening. These concerns centred around the operations, composition and communications regarding the schools’ H&S groups. Members’ uncertainties indicated a lack of involvement from all staff groups (both FM and C&F) working in schools.
A survey of Unite members in Edinburgh schools was initiated at the end of October 2020, following persistent inadequacy of response from Communities & Families (whose domain the H&S groups sits in). The resultant report revealed that far too many staff (particularly FM) were unaware of the existence of their school’s H&S group and had had no H&S communications.
The report was shared with senior C&F and FM staff who promised to rectify the situation and make all staff welcome to each school’s H&S group where possible. Our message now to all school workers (FM and C&F) is to inquire from Head Teacher or Business Manager how you can become involved in your school’s Health & Safety group.
Towards the end of September the City of Edinburgh Council was working on issuing 1 week’s notice of termination of contract to 39 library workers on fixed term contracts as a means of reducing costs whilst taking forward the plan to re-open some libraries early October.
Unite CEC branch found out about these proposals with only a few days to go before notices were to be issued. Calling it “an absolute disgrace” branch officials determined that, whilst legal, it would be “an outrage against common decency” were these workers (many of whom had been in the council and Unite several years) to lose their jobs and set to work.
After a flurry of emails, texts, phone calls, lobbying and speedily arranged zoom meetings the council was content to delay termination until January.
This is a temporary reprieve and those affected should contact a rep immediately.
The local authority newsletter is focusing on jobs across local authorities to show how valuable our public sector workers are and the hard work they put in under difficult conditions and often low pay.
Today, Unite would like you to meet Iona (not real name).
Iona works full-time in the Highlands and Islands and is paid £378 per week – a mere 60% of the UK’s average wage (£31,830).