Job cuts threaten services and make workers sick in Western Isles

UNISON’s Western Isles local government branch has issued a counter-warning over jobs and service cuts following an Audit Scotland alert that staff sickness rates were becoming an area of ‘concern’.

Branch chair Flora Somerville said:
“The Audit Scotland report noted that ‘the Comhairle (Council) is not clear what the underlying cause is for the increase in sickness absence’.”

“I think we can tell them. The cuts we have faced – including the loss of 200 jobs – have had a damaging effect on the wellbeing of the workforce.”

“The low morale in the workforce, the constant pressure of excessive workloads and the uncertainty around the future of their own jobs is having a significant impact on sickness levels.”

The job cuts so far represent more than 10% of the Comhairle’s workforce and there are proposals currently on the table which include yet more job losses.

Flora Somerville warned that further job losses would have an impact on services as well as the health of council workers:

“The reduction in the workforce so far has been achieved without cuts in service delivery – but at a very high cost to employees who are doing the work of colleagues who have left. Any further job cuts are bound to impact on the services we deliver to the most vulnerable in our communities.”

UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said:
“Councils are being placed in this position as a result of decisions of the Westminster and Scottish Governments. These cuts across the UK are not about austerity measures to meet an economic problem, but about politics – a politics that hates public services and loves to profit from privatisation.

“If the Western Isles Council, or any other council, moves to any form of compulsory redundancies, UNISON will consult on industrial action.”


For further information please contact:
Flora Somerville, UNISON Western Isles branch chair, on 07767034786
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 876 995 

Notes for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in all of Scotland’s local authorities. 

2. The Audit Scotland press release and report on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) December 2012 are available online here: