Union chiefs de­clare war on coun­cil

Shock bust- up as an­gry of­fi­cials storm out of HQ

Ayrshire Post - - NEWS - Stu­art Wil­son

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

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