Union chiefs declare war on council
Shock bust- up as angry officials storm out of HQ
Union chiefs are “on a war footing” with the council – after a stunning bust- up between bosses.
Furious reps walked from a meeting with South Ayrshire leaders on the eve of savage budget cuts.
UNISON officials, who represent more than 2000 staff, claim they were banned from speaking at the key summit.
The breakdown came as council leader, Douglas Campbell, and chief executive, Eileen Howat, stepped in to shut down a union presentation on “partnership working”.
Now the fallout is threatning to derail critical talks on the £ 17million axe set to swing through South Ayrshire’s coffers.
It’s understood a row over the reshaping of the council’s HR team lit the touch paper for the showdown.
The Joint Consultative Committee ( JCC) is a forum designed to bring together all trade unions and the council.
UNISON’s Tracey Dalling, who led the de p u t a t i o n f ro m Count y Bu il d i n g s , said: “We planned to make a presentation on partnership working and, as is protocol, sent over our slides to the council in advance.
“But the night before the meeting, we received emails from the council leader and chief executive saying our content was inappropriate.
“In effect we were banned from speaking and had no option but to leave the meeting.
“Never in my 20 years of doing this job have I known a scenario like this and we’re now on a war footing with them.”
UNISON bosses claim a council agreement on partnership working signed in 2009 is “not worth the paper it’s written on”.
And they blasted the idea that unions are properly consulted on cuts impacting staff.
Tracey, UNISON’S regional organiser, said: “The reality is budget savings are made and services re- designed long before we ever get involved.
“The lack of consultation with the trade unions is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.
“And this is just the tip of the iceberg – how can they fairly achieve £ 17million of cuts if they won’t talk to us?”
The union’s proposed presentation, seen by the Post, called for “a shared understanding” and “honesty, transparency and integrity”.
It came on the back of the payroll row, with a review underway to cut £ 350,000 from the service budget.
Union leaders say the process has placed up to 20 of their workers under “intolerable stress and anxiety levels over their jobs”.
Co u n c i l le a d e r Campbell admitted the flare up had left him “deeply concerned”.
He said: “This now leaves many UNISON members without a voice in the way the council organises our service delivery to residents, or with regards to employees’ terms and conditions.
“UNISON had proposed to bring forward a presentation under the banner of ‘ partnership working’, which related specifically to the review of Employee and Customer Services that was approved by Leadership Panel in June and is in the process of being implemented.
“Following extensive consultation between council officers and the trade unions while the review progressed, councillors met with UNISON in advance of the leadership panel meeting, made changes as a result of this, and then approved the proposals, which are now being implemented in line with council policies and have had no detrimental impact on the employees involved.
“On that basis, I did not consider the proposed presentation – which was incorrectly put forward by UNISON as being on behalf of all our trade union organisations – at today’s JCC relevant or appropriate.
“It seems to have been an excuse for UNISON to simply walk away, rather than sitting down and properly representing its members.”
Ayr MSP John Scott said: “It appears complaints are not being listened to and processes are not being followed, while longstanding partnership arrangements appear to be being set aside.
“However, it is not too late to have this dispute resolved amicably and a way forward should be found to restore mutual trust and confidence on both sides.”
United they stand UNISON officials at council HQ