Scotland’s local authorities have signed up to a framework agreement that seeks to prevent compulsory job losses in the public sector.
The agreement, endorsed by council leaders on Friday following discussions with the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) and trade unions, commits councils to explore every avenue in order to protect jobs although it does not rule out compulsory redundancies.
Yesterday Fife Council said it cannot rule out compulsory redundancies among its workforce, but that it would make “every effort” to avoid them.
The local authority’s workforce is expected to be cut by 10-15% by 2014, with around 500 posts expected to go this year.
Around 3900 employees have expressed an interest in voluntary early retirement, voluntary redundancy, reduced hours or unpaid leave over the next three years, and council services are now considering these requests taking into account vital work that has to continue and anti-cipated budget savings.
In response to claims about a deal over compulsory redundancies, Councillor Elizabeth Riches, human resources spokeswoman, said, “The talks between CoSLA, the government and the unions confirm the position that we’ve been describing here in Fife.
“Compulsory redundancies will always be kept to an absolute minimum, but as we continue to become more efficient and change the way we work, we will need fewer employees.
“Some posts will go through natural turnover, some people will leave through voluntary early retirement or voluntary redundancy and every effort will be made to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies, but we can’t guarantee that there will be none.Proactive”A number of employees are currently under notice that their jobs are at risk of redundancy and we are working proactively with them and their representatives to explore all options.
“We have a constructive working relationship with trade unions and are having ongoing discussions with them about efficiencies, workforce reduction measures and potential cost savings from altering working practices.”
A spokeswoman for Angus Council said, “Angus Council is undertaking a planned reduction in the number of people employed by the council 10% by 2014 which we hope, in the main, to achieve with natural turnover.”
While any deal to avert compulsory redundancies in the public sector will be welcomed across Scotland, Perth and Kinross Council employees are already in the fortunate position of knowing their jobs are safe.
Despite having to make savings of £23 million over the coming three years the local authority has already pledged to do so without resorting to job losses.
A mixture of financial prudence and planning, voluntary severance packages and not filling vacant posts has left the council in the fortunate position of not having to go down the route of compulsory redundancies.
“Prudence in our budgeting and maintaining a vision for the future is now the hallmark of this council,” council leader Councillor Ian Miller said when setting the recent budget.
“By setting aside £7 million in our last budget we have actively prepared for the cuts we face. We have also adopted a rigorous approach to workforce management.
“Since December 2009 we have held 232 posts vacant and we are now offering voluntary severance to 74 staff.”
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said the authority would have no compulsory redundancies but about 200 staff would leave at the end of next month through early retirement and voluntary redundancy.