Union hits out at Argyll and Bute budget proposals

Scotland’s biggest trade union has appealed to Argyll and Bute Council’s elected members and senior officers to commit to no compulsory redundancies and no compulsory reductions in hours in the authority’s forthcoming budget.

The 36 members of the council will meet on February 14 to consider a package of budget cuts put forward by the authority’s ruling SNP-Independent administration - proposals already being labelled by opposition councillors as a ‘Valentine’s Day massacre’.

But the Unison trade union says the proposed cuts are unnecessary and will make Argyll and Bute “a worse place to live and visit as a result” - and has called on the authority to publish, alongside its actual budget, a list of “what it believes would be required to provide the people of Argyll and Bute with the services they require to promote their good healthy, social well being, economic advancement and cultural opportunities”.

According to a statement the union is particularly concerned about the following proposals:

- to cut the budget for training and developing staff;

- to end the funding of the Meals on Wheels service;

- to close the Struan Lodge care home in Dunoon as part of a redesign of care home provision;

- to reduce home care services by imposing compulsory reductions in hours;

- to cut staffing levels in residential care for children;

- to put the Kintyre Network Centre out to third sector tender;

- to reduce libraries’ book stock budgets;

- to cut the hours of school clerical assistants;

- to severely cut back enterprise funding for schools;

- to cut jobs in grounds maintenance, roads operations and make other staff and vehicle/equipment savings.

The union’s statement also says a better severance package will be required in order to secure the necessary number of volunteers for redundancy.

“This budget represents significant cuts to the services and support the people of Argyll and Bute receive from the council,” the statement says.

“Every community will feel the detrimental effect of these cuts and overall Argyll and Bute will be a worse place to live and visit as a result of them.

“This budget has arisen as a result of savage and unnecessary cuts which are a direct result of failed and discredited policies such as the Westminster government’s austerity programme and the Scottish Government’s council tax freeze.

“Unison recognises that elected members will believe that they have to pass the proposed budget or something close to it; in doing so they should acknowledge that this cuts budget does not meet the real needs and aspirations of the people of Argyll and Bute.”