Union begins consultation with Falkirk Council staff over cuts

Falkirk Council needs to make savings of �25m over the next year
Falkirk Council needs to make savings of �25m over the next year

A union representing Falkirk Council staff has launched a consultation with members over spending cuts that have put jobs and incomes at risk.

GMB Scotland say full-time job losses, which could be up to 430 in Falkirk, and a reduction in terms and conditions will have a negative impact on local services as the council look to make cuts of £25 million over the next year.

The union started the three-week consultation with its 800 members on Tuesday.

The proposed savings are part of the council’s budget cuts to save £30.8 million in the two years over the financial years 2015/16 and 2016/17, rising to over £51 million in 2017/18. The cuts to terms and conditions will save £1.5m per year.

GMB Scotland organiser Christina Lambie said: “This is a very difficult time for the workforce in Falkirk Council. This year there will be the loss of a further 330 FTE jobs as well as the proposal to cut the terms and conditions package of our members by £1.5 million.

“This is the reality for workers from the budget set by the Scottish Government. We see jobs lost and terms and conditions under attack. This will also have a negative impact on the services delivered to the people of Falkirk.

“The outcome of the consultation is unpredictable as for the first time the workforce are being asked to reduce their income in these difficult times and we don’t know if our members are up for that but the consultations will tell us what members wish to do.”

Falkirk Council say it is working with unions and staff reductions so far have been voluntary, aiming to avoid compulsory redundancies.

A spokesman for the council said: “Falkirk Council has worked for many months with trade unions to develop a package which will help the council achieve the necessary savings to address the gap in budget.

“The options available in 2015/16 and 2016/17 could lead to a reduction of around 430 full time equivalent posts, but all reductions so far have been achieved through voluntary methods. The council will continue to work with employees and trade unions to achieve the required reductions on a voluntary basis and aims to avoid compulsory redundancies as far as possible.

“The savings in terms and conditions have been discussed with the trade unions for many months. The package now on offer was one which the trade unions selected for consultation from a range of options available during the months of negotiations.

“The £1.5m being saved from terms and conditions avoids the need to identify alternative saving options to this value, as all savings ultimately have an impact on the services we deliver and on jobs.

“Like all other councils, Falkirk Council has been required to achieve significant savings, with over £83m being achieved in the last nine years. These were delivered in ways which avoided compulsory redundancies.

“In 2016/17 the council will be required to achieve a further £25m of savings. Around 60 per cent of our budget is spent on workforce costs and whilst unfortunate, it is inevitable that savings must be found from workforce costs, as well as other areas.”