Unite has long advocated that council services be delivered by the council workforce and that our council ends the practice of out-sourcing our public services to private companies. Imagine then our astonishment to discover (2 days before the council meeting to give approval) that the council’s Facilities Management repairs contract was to be given to two massive multi-national companies (Mitie and Skanska).
We believe that our 200 or so members in Housing Property (joiners, plumbers, Electricians etc), augmented by additional craft operatives and apprentices, could do a huge amount of that work and help keep some of the £180m to be paid to these corporate giants in Edinburgh and for its citizens.
We hastily put together a deputation to the Finance and Resources committee highlighting both the lack of consultation with trade unions and the potential economic benefits to our city of keeping this work in-house. Whilst we did not succeed in stopping the award of the contract our notions of in-housing were heard by some councillors.
Subsequently, a motion to full council from Labour leader Cammy Day requires the council to look at ways of in-housing services and to consult with trade unions to do so. Whilst not an absolute commitment to in-housing it is a step in the right direction and Unite will continue to press for a presumption towards in-housing where possible in order that jobs are retained, council workforce expanded and Edinburgh council coffers are spent more in Edinburgh than in off-shore banking havens.