Almost 1,100 jobs are to go at one of Scotland’s biggest councils under plans to plug a £68 million black hole in its budget over the next two years.
North Lanarkshire Council will be asked at a meeting next week to accept more than £22 million of savings and approve a consultation in November to identify the remaining cuts, expected to be around the £45 million mark.
The council said the job cuts – which represent almost 10% of its workforce – will come through existing vacancies or voluntary severance where possible.
Councillor Jim McCabe, the council leader, said: “Many of the options to save this kind of money are extremely unpalatable and will have real consequences for the vital services we provide to the people of North Lanarkshire.
“They will also have a real impact on our employees, who work so hard to provide those services.
“That’s why it’s essential we consult on the options we have. It’s important to stress that these are options for consultation and not decisions. Those will be made once we have analysed all the feedback from residents, employees and trade unions.
“We are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies and will do everything we can to deal with reductions in staffing through voluntary redundancy, early retirement and redeployment.
“We are also committed to ensuring that we are still able to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
Trade union Unison said it would “work with the council to fight every job loss”.
John Young, North Lanarkshire Council steward for the union, said: “This is devastating for everyone living in North Lanarkshire and once again it is the low paid and vulnerable, including children, elderly and disabled people, who will be the worst affected.
“North Lanarkshire Council are proposing to cut 10% of the workforce, which will cause chaos in our vital public services, £26 million will be cut from the local economy; and at least 600 jobs are under threat of privatisation which we will oppose.
“Unison will work with the council to fight every job loss. The Scottish Government has promised no compulsory redundancies and at very least we will expect them to stick to that, so far we have not had any guarantees.”
Paul Grieve, the trade union GMB’s Scotland organiser, said the news was a”real body blow” to the area following the announcement of job losses at steelfirm Tata.
The union said the council was using a full-time equivalent figure to “mask” the actual job losses, which it claimed will be nearer 2,000.
“This will be devastating news to the workforce and the wider community who rely on council services,” Mr Grieve said.
“GMB Scotland pledge to campaign to save as many of these jobs and services as we can.
“We will be using any consultation period and the time between now and February when the budget is set to reduce the impact on jobs and services.”