Thursday, May 3, 2012

Response from the SNP Group

1. How will you protect public services? We have campaigned successfully for an increase in funding for Aberdeen, which has seen our budget increase by £5m this year and will go a significant way to protecting services. We have a policy of no compulsory redundancies, which will ensure that staff can feel secure in their jobs resulting in improved morale and better services. 2. Will you oppose any proposals for privatisation of key council services? As you know we opposed the corporate governance ADM as we believe that council services should wherever possible be carried out by the council. If we do need to change the way services are provided this should not be along the model of Sport Aberdeen where it is a company owned by the council - and no need to make a private profit. 3. With budgets going down, how will you protect standards in social care? We will utilise the Scottish Government's change funds and work in partnership with other public bodies to ensure that support is given to allow people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. This will save money and result in better outcomes for older people. 4. How can you ensure that the amount of personalisation or self-directed payments are at a level for elderly or disabled people to purchase an adequate amount of care? We will regularly review how these payments operate and ensure that consultation is undertaken with service users/carers to ensure standards are maintained. 5. Should everyone delivering public services - council staff and those working for contractors - be paid the Living Wage? Ideally yes - we have introduced it for council staff from this year and will explore if this can be rolled out for contractors. We passionately support the living wage. 6. Will you recognise the contribution made to our children’s education by classroom assistants by supporting them in opposing cutbacks? We have tried to limit the reduction in the numbers of PSAs. Following consultation last year we rolled back on proposals to reduce PSAs by 50% and reluctantly accepting a 33% reduction. There were no further reductions this year and we increased DEM budgets by £1m this year - if head teachers think they need more PSAs they can use this money to fund it. 7. Will you oppose the 3,000 planned job losses among police staffs? Policing will be a matter for the Scottish Government. Due to declining budgets savings will need to be made. It is important to note that the SNP has a no compulsory redundancy policy at a local and national level. 8. What will you do to lessen the impact of the UK Government’s Welfare Reforms which will see many families losing entitlement to a range of benefits including council tax benefit, housing benefit and working tax credits? We will ensure that support and advise is given to people who bear the brunt of the massive welfare cuts. We feel that the cuts are wrong and will only create further social and economic problems for some of our most vulnerable people. We will support initiatives that help people back to work. 9. Do you think it’s fair that council staff should have their pay frozen while inflation is high and the rich are getting richer? In principle no. Pragmatically I would rather see a pay freeze than job losses though, which is the motivation behind the pay freeze. 10. Will you support the council negotiating a Green Workplace agreement with trade unions to help meet climate change targets? We are totally committed to achieving the ambitious CO2 reduction targets and will explore all options to do this and would very much welcome working with the Trade Unions to achieve this goal.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Response From The Labour Group

Thank you for your recent e-mail, this response is the Labour Group position on the matters you have raised. 1 Our record is our key argument. We have worked closely with the Trade Unions and in particular UNISON throughout the last 5 years to try and protect our staff and services threatened by the SNP and the Lib Dems. We believe in public services and we believe that good public services are key to the viability of this city. 2 Again our record is to rebut all attempts at privatisation. This culminated in our pressure on the SNP paying off and producing a decisive rejection of the wholesale-proposed privatisation of core services. Remember Labour took a position right at the start of the process and said no. The SNP on the other hand said yes initially then changed their minds after huge amounts of money had been spent on outside accountants and thereby wasted. 3 We will be integrating the current plans for wholly owned internal company to ensure quality is preserved. We will work with the Trade Unions and in particular UNISON to take forward proposals in partnership and possibly incorporating co-operative aspects. In childcare and fostering in particular we might in close consultation with the Unions examine co-operative solutions. 4 We can assure the workforce that any changes in this field will be politically led centred on strong convenor ship. Labour Councillors will not be rubber-stamping anything. 5 Our commitment is to guarantee our own staff the living wage and we will seek to apply this to contracts wherever this is legally possible 6 We have fought hard for PSA’s against the SNP and Lib Dems who cut them. In alliance with educational religious and parent representatives we succeeded in forcing an inquiry into the educational impact of these cuts. The SNP and lib Dems voted against our motion. 7 We have always recognised the crucial importance of non-uniformed staff to the provision of criminal justice services. This was shown by the prolonged struggle over provision of forensic services in Aberdeen. We will continue to be pro-active in protecting staff. 8 We will work to oppose and bring down this reactionary UK Government and get back Labour Government. We would call on all Trade Unions and all Trade Unionists to support us in our endeavours. We will work with COSLA to do whatever can be done in mitigation of current measures. We will support all legitimate protests. 9 The reactionary SNP councillors supported by the Lib Dems tried to deny Aberdeen City Council staff their legitimate salary increments. Labour opposed this and fought to ensure all staff received their entitlements under contract. Only our joint working with Trade Unions overcame this. In administration we would be a strong voice in COSLA working closely with unions 10. Yes we believe that green should be an important part of our agenda Willie Young Secretary Labour Group Aberdeen City Council

Response from Jim Farquharson

Hi Karen, Difficult questions, but my answers must be brief. Bearing in mind that I had a thirty year career in HR in the Oil Industry, my answers will certainly be a bit different from those of your members. In that time, i was always known as firm but fair. I always try to achieve a win/win solution and am disappointed with much of the warring that seems to be part of Public Sector bargaining.Short answers are as follows. 1) Cut back on wasted expenditure and vanity projects. Try to achieve win/win solutions to problems. That means both side understanding the issues and coming to a compromise. 2) I have largely been opposed to privatisation as the saving in costs are often replaced by contractor profits. 3) Good question... It is my personal belief that the Equal Pay settlement that was imposed on the Unions has created more problems than we originally had. Bad legislation has been enacted for good reasons but without any understanding of the possible outcome. 4) Outwith my remit. 5) They should be paid a fair wage. The definition of Living Wage depends on too many different criteria. That is where mistakes have been made in the past. 6) I am totally opposed to the dual policy of "inclusion" and swingeing cuts in PSA's and classroom assistants. 7) I am totally opposed to the amalgamation of Scotland's Police Forces and the resulting loss of Police Officers on our streets. 8) Not part of my remit. 9) These are hard times and should be shared by all alike. 10) it is not a matter that I personally am particularly interested in, and so I would leave that to others. Sorry that is my lot. Regards, Jim Farquharson