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.
Unite is asking the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) why it produced a report proposing closure of several Local Authority Care Homes and was ready to vote it through (therefore authorise these closures) despite having no consultation with residents, employees or unions until our deputation and subsequent media interest encouraged them to think again.
Many of our members in the care homes under threat (Ferrylea, Ford’s Road, Clovenstone and The Jewel) had been informed, some by email, only a few days earlier. Some of our members had just been moved from the now closed Cherry Oak to homes earmarked for closure.
This is no way to treat our elderly residents and the workers who care for them and it provides us with a stark warning about the behaviour of those with decision-making power over others and how the enormous efforts and challenges of the pandemic can be so easily forgotten, lest we continually remind.
In her letter she reiterates her commendation and thanks to local government workers. However she has made it quite clear that her thanks does not stretch to financially rewarding our hard work in the fight against a pandemic that has affected and changed the working lives of all local government workers.
Ballot papers for Unite the Union General Secretary election are arriving at members’ addresses. This election will determine the direction of our union for the coming years and also have a significant impact on the shape of our country’s economic and social recovery from the pandemic. Our branch has two key messages for members.
Firstly, that everyone use their ballot and ensure that they participate in this election. We do not know exactly what the future will hold but we do know that our union needs to be stronger, more energised and united than ever before to take on the challenges we will be met with in the coming years to ensure a recovery that re-distributes wealth and opportunity evenly and equally with significant and seriously improved climate and social justice.
Edinburgh Labour recently suspended Councillor Gordon Munro, longest serving of our three Leith Ward councillors, for three months. This punishment was issued for the perceived delinquency of disobeying orders to vote for the coalition budget motion in February 2021 when, instead Councillor Munro abstained from the vote. His reasons for abstaining: that the coalition budget did not serve the people of Leith (where some of the most acute deprivation in Scotland exists) nor Edinburgh properly.
Whilst it is recognised that other parties’ budgets may have proven even more detrimental to Leith and Edinburgh it must also be recognised that Councillor Munro is a long standing campaigner against cuts, a lifelong supporter of workers’ rights (particularly City of Edinburgh council workers) and a consistent and persistent advocate for those in his ward and beyond who suffer the pains of poverty. It is in this context that we ask Edinburgh Labour to rescind or commute this sentence to enable this councillor to do what the role demands of him.