St Philip’s staff disappointed by redundancy ruling

STAFF at St Philip’s Secure Unit in Plains have been informed they won’t receive enhanced redundancy packages.

Almost 100 members of staff employed at the campus live in Airdrie and Coatbridge.

And many local businesses have been busy gathering petition signatures in protest against the closure.

Staff, union members and relatives of residents at the unit have already visited the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh in an attempt to persuade Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to re-examine the decision to withdraw funding.

Staff had hoped they could at least secure enhanced redundancy packages – but these hopes have also been dashed as they are not employed by the Scottish Government.

Siobhan McMahon MSP joined the protest at the parliament building and questioned First Minister Alex Salmond about the closure.

The First Minister said he had been involved in meetings about the issue.

Siobhan McMahon said: “Having talked to staff, parents, and children at St Philip’s, I can speak for their anger and frustration over the callous nature of this whole process.

“These moves were cost-driven not care-driven, and, as a consequence, the safety and security of St Philip’s children is now at risk.”

Social care worker Frank McAteer, who is a Unison representative at St Philip’s, is disappointed by events.

He said: “We still haven’t been issued with formal redundancy notices, but around a dozen members of staff have been seconded to St Mary’s Secure Unit as some of our residents have already been moved there.

“We feel let down by the lack of support from Alex Neil who pledged to lobby Kenny McAskill on enhanced redundancy packages and preserving employment by finding alternative use for the building.

“No-one can tell us why this place has lost out.

“We were running at 100 percent capacity, £5m of public money has been spent on the building in recent years and other units such as Kibble and St Mary’s have been operating at less than 50 percent capacity.

“We will continue to lobby our MSP but it doesn’t look as if we have anywhere to go.

“We had great support from local people with the petitions and we’d like to thank them for that.”

Alex Neil MSP responded by saying: “I’ve fought as hard as I possibly can to save St Philip’s, but I was brought into the process very late in the day.

“By the time I got involved, the tenders had been issued.

“The decision wasn’t made by the Scottish Government, it was made by Scotland Excel and St Philip’s just lost out on the tendering.

“The important thing now is to try and find jobs for those who are being made redundant in other secure units or other companies.

“Unison as an organisation have spent more time trying to play party politics with this issue.”

On the issue of enhanced redundancy packages for St Philip’s staff, the MSP added: “I said I would look to see it was possible that employees could get enhanced redundancy but the Treasury rules don’t allow the Scottish Government to give it to employees of other organisations.

“We looked to see if there was a way but it proved impossible because we are governed by treasury rules in London.

“I made it clear right from the beginning that there was only an outside chance and we certainly didn’t make any promises – we’ve explored every avenue and found it was legally impossible”.