Dundee SNP councillors were booed and jeered last night after they voted to approve controversial changes to employment policies on Monday night.
Trade union members protested against plans to introduce a new policy on managing the council workforce that includes revisions to its voluntary early retirement and voluntary redundancy schemes.
The new policy also states compulsory redundancies will be considered as a last resort, which opposition councillors claimed reversed previous council policy.
In a deputation to the council’s policy and resources committee, Stuart Fairweather, from the Unite union, said they had only been told about the new policy on January 24.
And he said trade unions were told this month there was no point in further negotiation as they would never agree to the proposed changes.
City council chief executive David Martin said: “The whole point about the policy was to demonstrate clearly and unarguably that the council is determined to avoid compulsory redundancies.”
But there was laughter in the packed public gallery when he said the council is looking to “encourage a degree of churn” in order to encourage younger people into the council’s workforce.
West End Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “We used to have a no compulsory redundancies policy. Now we’ve a policy of compulsory redundancies as a last resort. The change of language is worrying.”
Mr Macpherson also criticised the “truncated” negotiations with trade unions and asked why the policy was being rushed through.
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said the policy was in line with one agreed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in 2016 and would not affect workers already enrolled in cash conservation or flexible retirement scheme.
He added: “There has never been a no compulsory redundancy policy in my time on the council. The policy has always been we would avoid compulsory redundancies at all cost.”
Conservative Ferry councillor Derek Scott then quoted an interview from previous SNP administration leader Ken Guild where he said he would continue the council policy of no compulsory redundancies.
A motion to defer implementing the new policy until further consultation had taken place with trade unions was defeated by 15 votes to 13, prompting boos and catcalls from the public gallery. All Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors voted to defer.
Protesters then chanted “shame on you” outside the chambers, nearly drowning out discussion inside.
An SNP spokesman said the move would not impact the terms and conditions of workers.