Members of the three largest trade unions in Dundee gathered outside the council last night to protest the decision not to let them speak in the chamber about industrial action that could be on the horizon.
Representatives of Unite, Unison and GMB all gathered outside the City Chambers waving flags and banners, handing out letters outlining their reasons for demonstrating.
The unions fear staff will suffer after councillors voted to remove the local authority’s long-held commitment against compulsory redundancies in February.
Elected members also voted to cut pay protection from three years to one for people who have moved to different jobs.
Chanting “they say cut back, we say fight back”, the protesters booed councillors as they entered the chambers ahead of last night’s council meetings.
Stuart Fairweather, Dundee branch chairman at Unite, told a crowd of dozens that the unions had sought to speak at last night’s council meetings about an impending threat of strike action but that their request was refused.
Mr Fairweather said: “We asked for a deputation tonight and it was refused.
“The councillors said the fact that GMB are having a ballot on industrial action, the fact that Unison are having a ballot on industrial action and the fact that Unite are having a ballot on industrial action is not reasonable enough for us to be received.”
Helen Meldrum, GMB Scotland organiser for Tayside, added the council’s refusal to admit them was “disgraceful”.
“It’s spitting in the faces of their members,” she said.
“This is people’s lives as far as I’m concerned – if that’s not enough for them (to hear us out) I don’t know what is, to be honest.”
A letter handed to councillors as they went in urged them to reverse the decision so “meaningful discussion” can take place. Members of each union are being balloted on industrial action should this not come to pass.
Inside the chamber – where the protests could still be heard – Labour leader Kevin Keenan asked the council’s legal head Roger Mennie why the joint shop stewards committee was not given permission to make a deputation.
Mr Mennie said this was because the committee wasn’t responding to a specific item being discussed at council last night.
He told Mr Keenan: “I indicated (to them) that a deputation must be relevant to an item on the agenda this evening.”