Public Sector Employment (Compulsory Redundancy)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd March 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government whether it is committed to a policy of no compulsory redundancies across the public sector. (S3O-13458)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Yes, the Government is committed to a policy of no compulsory redundancies. There is real benefit in providing security of employment in uncertain times to the dedicated and professional staff who work in all parts of the public sector. I was delighted to announce last week that the Scottish Government has extended its no compulsory redundancy agreement for its staff for a further year, to March 2012. I have always been clear that the Government wants to extend that type of agreement across the public sector in Scotland. We are continuing to work closely with our partners to achieve that goal.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Scottish National Party

That is indeed welcome news for many people. There are 34 Glasgow City Council workers who are being transferred under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations against their will as a result of the awarding of the United Kingdom Border Agency asylum support contract to Ypeople. Like lambs to the slaughter, if those workers accept the transfer, they face an insecure future, and many face imminent redundancy. However, if they do not accept, Glasgow City Council says that they will have made themselves redundant, despite that Labour council’s no compulsory redundancy policy. Does the cabinet secretary agree that those workers, who have been praised throughout the UK for the standard of their work, and who have been producing financial surpluses for their employers in today’s tough economic climate, are the very people whom the public sector should not only protect, but actively retain? Does he agree that a local authority the size of Glasgow City Council cannot possibly argue that it cannot redeploy a mere 34 workers?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

It is important in all of those circumstances that the employees concerned are treated with care and dignity, and in an atmosphere of fairness. I encourage Glasgow City Council to engage with the workforce concerned to try to find ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies at all costs. With flexible working and a committed management within the organisation, a better way than the one that has been set out by Anne McLaughlin can undoubtedly be found.

Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour

I heard and welcome the cabinet secretary’s answer that he would try to extend the policy of no compulsory redundancies throughout the public sector.

Will he take this opportunity to make it clear that whatever the outcome of the tendering process and eventual decision on the Gourock to Dunoon ferry route, it will not result in a single compulsory redundancy? If he gave us that assurance, it would be good news for the 66 employees who face an uncertain time between now and the final decision in June.

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Mr McNeil has made his point fairly on the record. He will understand that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any of the details that he has raised, given that there is a live tender process in relation to the contract. He has clearly set out his position and I understand the concern of the workforce that he represents.