Date: Thursday 22 November 2007
Council leader dismisses 6,000 signature petition
A row has broken out over comments made by Dumfries & Galloway
Council leader - Ivor Hyslop about a 6,000 signature petition due
to be presented to him today (Thursday 22 November).
Mr Hyslop described the petition as 'redundant' in an email to
UNISON, the union for the Classroom Assistants, and in a further
email to a member asked her to point out the agenda items which
involved savings and accused the union of 'wasting money' on an
advert that asked members of the public to email councillors on
the Finance Sub Committee.
The petition - against the proposals to cut 60-70 Classroom Assistant
posts - has attracted 6,000 signatures from across the region, and
the campaign against the proposals has attracted support from across
the political spectrum.
The cuts are part of a package of proposals drawn up by officials
to address a funding shortfall. At the last minute, they were withdrawn
from the agenda of Thursday's Finance Sub-Committee by the council's
Graham Abrines, Communications Officer of UNISON's Dumfries and
Galloway Branch said "As the region's largest union, we are big
enough to ride the rudeness and innuendo in Mr Hyslop's replies,
but we are angry about these kind of replies being targeted at worried
classroom assistants, members of the public, and others who have
the temerity to contact their elected representatives.
"The 6,000 people who signed this petition did so against
clear proposals to cut and privatise jobs and services - we know
that, the public know that and Ivor Hyslop knows that. To suggest
that their actions are redundant, or imply that the meeting had
no prospect of discussing these job cuts, is to treat his constituents
and the people of Dumfries and Galloway as fools. In a democracy
people have a right to make their opinion known to their representatives
and not have them respond rudely, or dismissively."
The cuts package was withdrawn from the agenda after last weeks
budget announcement from Holyrood meant that a new financial situation
might apply. UNISON welcomes the withdrawal, but will continue campaigns
against cuts and privatisation in case the proposals reappear once
the financial situation becomes clearer.
Marion Stewart, Branch Secretary said "We thank the 6,000 people
and many more who have supported our campaign to back our classroom
assistants. There is no doubt, despite the claims, that the huge
level of support has had an impact on the council's actions in dropping
the proposals. Mr Hyslop might be better reflecting on the views
of all these voters, rather than attempting to attack people with
half-truths and rudeness."
For further information please contact: Contacts for interviews
and photographs, UNISON Branch Office /Marion Stewart (Branch Secretary)
01387 257393 Graham Abrines (Branch Communications officer) 07841968441