Date: 24 March 2010
Campaign against sell-off starts in Edinburgh
UNISON has launched a campaign against 'reckless' council plans
to sell-off services and over 3,000 jobs.
The "Our City's Not For Sale" campaign will work with other unions,
community groups and the public to expose the dangers of the council's
'alternative business models'.
"Services like front line customer contact, revenue and benefits,
catering, cleaning, security, cleansing and vehicle and grounds
maintenance, along with HR are all up for grabs with cultural
services, transport and legal services also being primed for outsourcing
through multi-million pound 'strategic partnerships' or 'joint
ventures' - privatisation, to you and me", said Agnes Petkevicius,
UNISON Edinburgh Branch Secretary.
"UNISON's own studies have revealed that, at best, council claims
about savings are wishful thinking. No credible evidence exists
to support them. Worse still, the evidence that does exist points
to failures, worse services, increased costs and huge bills to
bring failed services back in-house.
"To go ahead with this, in an exercise likely to top £1million
wasted on consultants, without learning the lessons of the social
care tendering fiasco is nothing short of reckless".
"If services are delivered in-house with no need to make a profit,
how can they be delivered more cheaply while making a profit on
top? Something has to give and that is usually the quality of
the service or indeed the whole service - along with any decency
in the pay and conditions of those delivering the service", added
Branch President John Stevenson.
"You still pay your taxes but instead of the money going on the
service and those who deliver it, it goes to company profits.
Like the banks, or even perhaps the trams contract, these companies
will become 'too big to fail' and will have the council over a
barrel. It is time for the council to abandon these plans and
concentrate on efficient and quality services in-house".
UNISON lead negotiator Kevin Duguid said, "The union has stressed
that it is always ready to fully engage with the council on better
and more efficient ways of delivering quality services. "However,
the refusal to seriously look at in-house options means there
is no real attempt to look at improving services, just a headlong
drive to privatise".
"Nowhere is this more evident than the council leaving key issues
out of the tendering advert like bidders having to comply with
legal requirements such as the equalities duty, Climate Change
Act etc, in case it deters them from applying".
"Staff are demoralised at how they are being treated with their
jobs being sold from under them to the lowest bidder who will
cut their terms and conditions to deliver profits for their shareholders
first, with service delivery coming second."
More details and 10 points from UNISON's damning analysis of
the council plans is at http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/citynotforsale/10points.html