It’s time to go Jonathan
Council leader Jonathan McColl and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who supports the trade unions’ right to facility time.
Time to go Jonathan. You and your colleagues on West Dunbartonshire Council have become an ongoing embarrassment to the Scottish National Party.
Your latest, mean and stupid strategy of taking on the trade unions over facility time for conveners to represent the 5,000-strong workforce is not only daft. It’s dangerous.
The impact could be the withdrawal of labour by thousands of council workers, which would inevitably lead to disruption and chaos across the community.
These public services have come under fire in recent times because there are not enough of them, and the ones we have are under-financed and under-staffed.
In West Dunbartonshire, we are one of the most deprived communities in Scotland, starved of cash support by central government.
The figures for this community for serious issues such as child poverty and domestic violence would make your hair curl.
And how are the SNP helping to give poor families, some of them forced to use food banks, a hand up?
Cutting school milk doesn’t help, nor do the other controversial cuts on the austerity programme.
Whoever thought those options up belongs to the late Ken Dodd School of Politics.
As does so much else presented to the administration by council officials in the annual budget options document.
The austerity budget which has now been introduced from these options is widely despised by workers and service users.
And by the trade unions whose facility time for dealing with the effect on their members has been cut back.
This is happening at a time when trade unions will be needed most in order to represent the interests of their members directly affected by the cuts.
These are the staff and workers whose responsibilities have been changed and whose workload has been increased – and, sadly, the ones who will be made redundant.
MSP Jackie Baillie took the matter up with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in a debate at Holyrood.
Was Councillor McColl and his SNP group right to take on the workers’ representatives, she asked.
The First Minister’s answer was unequivocal – “In that meeting (with the STUC) this particular issue was raised by trade unions, rightly and understandably raised by trade unions.
“I made it very clear to them, as I will do publicly in this chamber today, my support for facility time and properly resourced facility time.
“Not just because I think that is right for trade unions but it also helps employers and it is good for industrial relations. I saw that when I was health secretary in the NHS and I think that principle applies much more widely as well.
“So, I would consider cutting facility time to be false economy actually by any employer.
“And I would encourage all employers whether they are local authorities or any other public sector or indeed private sector employer to see the value of facility time.”
There you have it then, straight from the First Minister’s lips.
But who is listening? Certainly not Cllr McColl nor his SNP colleague Cllr Karen Connaghan.
These two are sticking to their guns, something which appear to many of us to be loaded with dud bullets and blank cartridges.
It’s time Nicola Sturgeon called these two into her office for a severe ticking off – and more.
Cllr McColl is a political embarrassment, an excuse for a council leader.
His lieutenants are inexperienced and incompetent to the extent that one of them, Cllr Iain McLaren, refuses to apologise for giving questionable information about a residential home contractor bidding to take over Langcraigs in Dumbarton.
Remember the old lady with the horrific bruises to her face after an unsupervised fall?
The conduct of the annual budget meeting was appalling with Provost William Hendrie well out of his depth.
And some of the women, who wish to be treated both seriously and equally, giggling behind their hands during the proceedings.
The SNP need to wake up to fact that this is no laughing matter.
Our council is in crisis and we have an SNP administration, much in the manner of Theresa May at Westminster, backed up by a few Conservatives and a maverick Independent pushing through policies the public don’t want.
Democracy is a fragile flower which in West Dunbartonshire is in serious danger, just like the flowers in our once lovely, well-kept parks, cemeteries and open spaces which are under serious threat.
It’s time we had a council that listened to the electorate on matters like St Martin’s Primary School in Renton and so many other issues.
Diplomacy is not this council’s strong suit.
If the SNP do not consider the public important enough to take their views into account then perhaps it’s time they listened to their leader, Nicola Sturgeon?