Ten reasons why City of Edinburgh Councillors should oppose privatisation (and they did)

Barnet UNISON have invited Edinburgh UNISON down to speak at our AGM on Thursday 1 March.

Edinburgh Council also have been through massively expensive Competitive Dialogue using expensive consultants and had even named the contractor to take on the 2,000 council workers, when at the eleventh hour, councillors across the political divide woke up and smelt the coffee and reversed the decision. Read the article here

Below are Ten reasons why City of Edinburgh Councillors should oppose privatisation (and they did)

1 - Privatisation doesn’t work. From fatal accidents on unsafe railways, and deaths from hospital infections to the soar away bills of energy companies. Private companies put profit before people, cutting corners and selling the tax payer short.

2 - If private companies are so wise with money why do so many go bust? The residents in Southern Cross care homes have had an anxious year praying that the spectacular demise of the profligate care company doesn’t leave them on the streets. Edinburgh’s preferred bidder for environmental services has only just been rescued from £740 million debt by the intervention of a consortium of banks. Privatisation is laden with risk.

 

3 - Once their feet are under the table, private companies drive up costs. Another Edinburgh bidder, BT, just agreed to refund £27 million to the people of Liverpool after a report found they were massively overcharging the local council.

 

4 - Managing commercial contracts is an art that takes skill to master. We don’t have to remind people of the tram fiasco in Edinburgh, but a recent Audit Scotland report indicated the council still lacks the ability to manage large commercial contracts. We need another tram fiasco like a hole in the head!

 

5 - Along with worries for service users, privatisation brings fear to the workforce. Fear of job losses and fear of pay cuts. Two hundred jobs will go if councillors vote for privatisation on Thursday and the pension scheme will close its door on new employees. The beginning of the end for decent pensions in the capital.

 

6 - Not all private companies are the same but two companies who progressed during the Edinburgh bidding process were caught concealing the fact they had been prosecuted and convicted for unsafe practices which led to workplace deaths. The public sector works to higher standards of safety and integrity.

 

7 - Privatisation plans are hidden behind a veil of secrecy. All the key documents for Edinburgh privatisation are locked in a “data room” away from public scrutiny. Even the MORI report on local attitudes to privatisation is secret. Apparently the views of the people might prejudice the position of the council. We need to preserve openness and transparency in local government.

 

8 - Local service providers should be accountable to elected councillors not shareholders. Neither the Liberal Democrats nor the SNP were elected with a mandate for privatisation yet they could tie the council to a private contract for twelve years. It will be the private contract and not newly elected councillors which will determine how services are provided. Why bother voting in the next three elections? Privatisation undermines local democracy.

 

9 - In addition to having no mandate from the electorate, the council in Edinburgh never went to the public to explain their plans. There has been no public consultation. Council services belong to the people. They have a right to have their say. They have a right to be heard.

 

10 - With the exception of a few failed bankers, the council’s money problems were not caused by the people of Edinburgh. They certainly were not caused by the workers. No street sweeper brought the country to its knees by gambling with the nation’s wealth. Why should we pay with the loss of jobs and services?

These are just the top ten reasons to oppose privatisation. There are many more. If Edinburgh goes private council services across Scotland will be at risk. We ask people to join us in a simple message – Scotland wants services based on public need, not private greed