The Highlands has been dealt a double blow just before Christmas – with 31 workers at a recycling plant losing their jobs, and a further 14 redundancies being sought at Highland Council’s IT division.
Businessman Billy Munro, managing director of Evanton-based William Munro Construction, claims the entire workforce at the firm’s recycling plant have lost their jobs after Highland Council awarded a £1.5million recycling contract to French-owned SUEZ.
He said: “This is the most inefficient, mismanaged transfer of a contract that I have ever seen. It is not the way to conduct business.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The new contractor can process this material at a lower price and therefore provide better value for the public in the Highlands.
“The tender was awarded through a Direct Award process, which is allowable under procurement rules provided that the providers are on a recognised procurement framework.”
She said the local authority pledged to “mitigate any impacts on the employees”.
Mr Munro claims SUEZ will not take on his employees.
The move will result in recyclable waste collected in the Highlands and Islands being sent to Newcastle or Perth for processing.
But MSP John Finnie hit out at the move, saying: “Once again, we see the terms ‘national procurement’ and ‘best value’ trotted out to justify a deeply flawed decision.
“I will be raising this matter directly with Highland Council and the Scottish Government. Transporting the Highland’s recyclable waste to Newcastle for processing beggars belief. This is shameful.”
SUEZ was contacted for a comment, but did not respond.
Meanwhile, 14 council IT jobs are to be axed in Inverness.
The move is being made by the local authority’s IT provider, Wipro, who took over the controversial £8.5million contract from heavily-criticised Fujitsu last August.
There was much fanfare at the time that the company was basing the majority of its workforce in Inverness, but they are have now seeking 14 redundancies, with staff claiming the work will go offshore to India, where Wipro is based.
Richard Whyte, regional officer of the Unite union, said: “This is shocking news. I condemn it in the strongest terms.
“Highland council in its procurement should always prioritise local jobs for local people. The moral and ethical values of employers who choose or allow the offshoring of jobs in this way has no place in the 21st century in our view.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “During the award of contract, the council was made aware that the IT workforce would reduce in order that the council would achieve the level of savings sought and benefit from reduced costs and savings in its IT provision. The savings required by the council in its new IT contract are a necessary part of the council’s redesign as we must reduce our costs.”
“The council gives assurance that wherever there is a possibility to secure local jobs in Inverness and the Highlands it will do everything that it can to provide assurance and support.”
Attempts were made to contact Wipro for comment.