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Date: 18 August 2006

Councils' efficiency measures will stall unless workforce involved - UNISON

UNISON - The unison representing staff in both Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils - today said that the proposals for Joint Working between the councils' were being put at risk by the councils' failure to involve their staff unions.

Pam Robertson, UNISON's Clackmannanshire Branch Secretary said "Despite Scottish Executive recommendations of an early and continuous involvement with staff trade unions, all that UNISON has received from the Council are very general papers about the aims of the experiment, and speculation about the potential savings. There has been one brief meeting and no negotiations. In Stirling our colleagues have had a similar lack of contact! It is long past time that the people who deliver these services are asked their views.

"UNISON has always been willing to look at innovative ways of delivering services. But these exercises are never successful unless staff are involved and supportive. A large number of questions are thrown up by both this exercise and existing discussions about shared services. Who runs the services? Who employs the staff? What the implications are for democratic accountability? Is it a good idea to centralise local services? What are the dangers of EU procurement legislation? Will staffing cuts mean more work loaded onto front-line staff? And many more.

UNISON will be demanding answers to those questions from both councils before we give any approval to any such proposals. The proposals plan to move most council services onto a joint working arrangement follow consultation on Shared Services issued by the Scottish Executive. However where shared services tend to concentrate on important support services - like payroll, information technology etc, these proposals deal with front-line public services such as housing.

Lesley Russell, UNISON's Stirling Joint Branch Secretary said: "UNISON has concerns about proposals that may lead to substituting local service points with centralised IT-based services. This can lead to services that are less accountable to local people, more heavily reliant on technology with its attendant risks, are more open to privatisation, and virtually never make the savings anticipated. Sharing the work can be a good idea, but it needs to be very carefully arranged, not rushed at to try and make some target unrelated to the delivery of services.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Pam Robertson (Clackmannan Branch Secretary) 01259 722282(w) Lesley Russell/Abigail Robertson (Stirling Branch Joint Secretaries) 01786 443440(w) email at unison@stirling.gov.uk John Fair (Regional Officer) 07903 846 329 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 07715 583 729(m)

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