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Date: 16 August 2007

Edinburgh workers vote for strike against cuts and redundancies

Almost 8,000 UNISON members delivering services for the City of Edinburgh Council have voted by over two to one to strike against cuts and redundancies. The ballot result was announced and confirmed by the union's national committee today (Thursday 16 August 2007).

Unless the union gets assurances that there will be no redundancies and no extra pressures on staff due to cuts, the first strike will be on 23 August 2007 to coincide with the council meeting that looks set to vote through the cuts. A programme of selective action and boycotts will follow.

"Council services are all about people. People use the services and people deliver them. They are home helps, education and social work staff, engineers, roadworkers, environmental health staff - all the people who provide Edinburgh's services. You cannot make cuts of up to £16 million without the threat of redundancies among the people delivering those services", said George Lee, UNISON Edinburgh Branch Secretary.

"Even at this late stage, the council's own staff and their union have been kept in the dark about what the cuts options are. The only thing the council has been clear about is that it cannot rule out redundancies", added Mr Lee.

"Many council staff are already under huge pressures to manage services without the resources they need. They cannot take any more and that is why our members have voted for action", added John Ross, Edinburgh UNISON Service Conditions Convenor.

"This is not about waste or overspends, it is about unrealistic budgets and staff struggling to maintain services. The big cuts will come in Children & Families and Health & Social Care. That means education, childrens services and the care of the elderly and disabled. Many of these services have to be provided by law and some of the options will not be able to be delivered, resulting in huge cuts in other departments".

"It is time for the politicians to set budgets that match need and time for the new Scottish Executive to deliver action on services, backed by the proper funding, rather than just words", added Mr Ross.

Information for editors: UNISON members working for the City of Edinburgh Council were consulted in a secret postal ballot from 1-15 August 2007. Despite the absence of many education staff due to school holidays, there was 30% return. The result was as follows:-
In favour of action short of strike action 1,945 (84.4%), against 360 (15.6%)
In favour of strike action 1,601 (70.8%), against 661 (29.2%)

Further Information:

George Lee, Branch Secretary 0131 220 5655 or 0781 731 5312
John Ross, Service Conditions Convenor, 0131 220 5655 or 0781 549 1559
John Stevenson, Communications Officer, 07876 795 018