A RIFT has opened between Clydebank’s union bosses and West Dunbartonshire Council over budget cuts this month.

The Joint Trade Unions (JTU), made up of GMB, Unite, Unison and the EIS, hit out after the SNP administration voted to reduce the number of paid convener posts from 3.4 to two, with councillors arguing this was supported by the public and staff in the recent consultation.

But the unions argued this was based on just 347 staff out of 5,500 employees, the majority of them unionised.

They said the conveners’ posts were essential to fighting austerity and this was a “direct attack” on them and they had “no confidence” in the consultation.

And they warned trade union relations were at an “all-time low” and the cuts should be reversed.

The JTU told the Post: “[Council leader] Jonathan McColl had made assurances at numerous meetings with the JTU and SNP that they would not be cutting conveners and gave no indication of this prior to the council meeting.

“Therefore SNP have been dishonest in their approach and their commitment to support the trade unions and to adopt the unions anti austerity campaign, this implies that SNP have taken these decisions to ensure they can make cuts to services and staff with no opposition from the trade unions.”

Cllr McColl did not respond to calls from the Post.

Out of more than £1 million in cuts made in the budget this month, just £50,000 is saved on the trade union posts.

A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesman confirmed the joint trade unions had told the council that their partnership with the council was at an end.

The union continued: “This is a direct attack on the democracy of the trade union and will undermine our efforts to represent our members. We have seen a dramatic increase in members requiring our support, from members who are ill or terminally ill to disciplinary and grievance.

“The SNP-run administration have tactically decided to pick up on a management recommendation to attack the trade unions as a pre-emptive move to further push through austerity, to attack the workforce and the trade union movement in future.

“They think that if they are successful with this attack on the trade unions then there will be no-one campaigning and supporting the workforce to provide and to defend essential public services.”

West Dunbartonshire Council insisted there would be no jobs lost.

A council spokesman said: “In cleaning services changes will be achieved through natural turnover and in Greenspace, we will adjust the number of temporary seasonal staff we employ this year.

“Facility time will continue to be protected for our trade union representatives in line with our facility agreement.

“The budget decision, which was supported by 64 per cent of employees who completed the survey, will see the number of full-time trade union convenors paid for by the council move from 3.4 FTE to two, and is in line with other Scottish councils.

“It is also worth noting that the changes approved as part of the budget setting will deliver savings for council tax payers of over £1m.”