West Dunbartonshire Council accused of ‘hypocrisy’ over staff nursery closure plan

Thursday 26 March 2015

West Dunbartonshire Council have proposed the closure of their staff nursery at the same time as entering themselves for a ‘top employers for working families award’. Staff and parents of children attending the nursery were given only four months notice of closure.

UNISON members and parents are miffed that Garshake staff nursery, is due to close on 31st July 2015. Parents and staff have been given very little time to make other arrangements. The disruption will have a negative impact on the wellbeing of the young children who attend.

Joanne Harkin, UNISON convenor in West Dunbartonshire said “This early closure will only upset and unnerve the young children right at the start of their learning experience. We should be helping to develop their young minds and nurturing them, not overwhelming them with change. The parents currently pay for extended hours and have not been offered any alternatives which deliver this vital flexibility, this could potentially result in some of the parents having to reduce their working hours. This is a bad decision by the council and not family friendly.”

Joanne continued “The fact that West Dunbartonshire Council have entered themselves for an award for Top Employers For Working Families, supported by the Scottish government and others, just as they are closing down the staff nursery is farcical. The irony is not lost on UNISON members. And we will continue to campaign to keep the nursery open”

UNISON believes this cut is yet another example of the harm caused when Councils fail to stand up to the discredited policies of Westminster austerity and the Scottish Government’s Council Tax Freeze.


Notes to Editors

  • West Dunbartonshire Council has entered itself to The Scottish Top Employers for Working Families Award. This award is supported by Scottish Government, UNISON Scotland, charities and private sector.
  • It is an award which recognises employers who support the work-life balance of all their employees. The award promise that ‘Winners of the 2015 Scottish Top Employers for Working Families Awards will be announced at a sparkling afternoon tea on 31 March 2015 by Sarah Jackson OBE and Fiona McLeod MSP, Acting Minister for Children and Young People.’
  • The award   the definition for “these awards seeks to identify progressive employers who recognise and leverage the powerful links between flexibility and agile working, emotional engagement, wellbeing, and high-performance. They are your chance to tell us about what you do to develop and support flexible and family-friendly working in your organisation.  The Scottish Top Employers for Working Families Award winners will be chosen by our panel of expert judges and winning an award is recognition of best practice, innovation and sustainability in each of the six categories, and marks your organisation out as a leader in the field.” (taken fromhttp://www.topemployersforworkingfamilies.org.uk/index.php/scottish-special-awards)
  • UNISON recognises the Nursery’s future will have to be reviewed when the Garshake site is vacated, we believe that is the appropriate time for such a significant step as closure to be considered. As an interim step the Centre could be closed to new admissions of 2 year olds and the baby room start to run down for 2017. We request that the current class of 2-4 year old be allowed to conclude their Pre-School Education at the Garshake Centre in familiar surroundings with known staff. To shut the Centre now and force parents to make alternative arrangements and for these then to have to be reviewed again by some parents when their place of work moves from Garshake in 2017 could involve double disruption for some children.

For Further Info contact

  • Simon Macfarlane  UNISON regional organiser, 07703 194 132
  • John Gallacher UNISON Scottish organiser, 07904 342 426
  • Joanne Harkin UNISON West Dunbartonshire branch, 07803 146 183