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Posted on 25 August 2010 at 1:08 GMT

Privatisation and cuts in Edinburgh

Article from the Socialist, Scotland

Edinburgh Council is set to continue its attempt to sell off vital and key services to private contractors.

According to the council's Unison branch, 1.5 million pounds is currently being spent on trying to privatise services whereas only one tenth of that money is being allotted to attempting to deliver an in-house service.

Jim Wilson, Socialist Party Scotland

Cuts and privatisation in local government are not being assessed purely by the cost of service provision and service quality but by the ideological beliefs of the SNP/LibDem administration who believe that outsourcing our services to the lowest bidder is the most efficient way to run our public services.

The council refuse collectors are still on a work-to-rule over changes to pay and coniditions and Unite, the trade union representing them, recently held a ballot on whether to accept an improved offer - the result was a refusal.

The administration has been forcing through pay cuts for the lowest paid employees under the veil of pay 'modernisation' where, rather than levelling up female manual workers to the same rate as men, male manual workers have received pay cuts of up to 6,000.

Street cleansing staff have recently received contracts that the unions have recommended they sign. In these they have been given more duties and different roles with severe cuts in pay. Their working hours and conditions have been substantially changed and many members of staff feel unable to rely on the trade unions to achieve any results.

The council states that it must make cuts and consider privatisation because of the state of its finances but it still continues to push through the tram project that is costing the council a predicted 100 million minimum [which private companies are profiting from] as well as the visit of the Pope, costing the city over half a million pounds.

The council is more interested in vanity projects than the public services that working people rely on.

The electorate voted the administration in, thinking that they were there to ensure that a well-managed and efficiently run council would provide necessary public services that would benefit the 500,000 Edinburgh residents that use them.

It is the duty of the councillors to stop trying to sell off our services and stop their plans to make thousands of staff redundant.

We call on the three trade unions at the council (GMB, Unite and Unison) to step up their action to defend public services in the interests of both their members and all Edinburgh citizens.

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