Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie has offered a guarded welcome to the news that the 31 workers who lost their jobs as a result Highland Council not renewing a recycling contract with an Easter Ross company are to receive some payments.
John Finnie said:
“It’s unfortunate that it took me raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions and posing a series of questions to Highland Council to get any movement on this issue. I understand the workers will require to sign ‘gagging’ clauses to receive 13 weeks’ payment. They won’t be allowed to comment on either the Council or its policies, along with anyone in any way connected with the local authority or indeed the French company, Suez, that were given the contract by the Council.
“However, I am under no such obligation not to comment and will expect Highland Council to detail how we ended up in this point and the extent to which they are funding this deal. Highland Council lacks political leadership; indeed the Leader Councillor Margaret Davidson indicated she was heading off on holiday rather than meet the workers.
“So, whilst pleased for the individual workers – none of whom now have a job – let’s not forget that, as a result of this shambles, Highland’s recycled waste will now be transported to Newcastle. It’s about time that Highland Council’s administration got a grip and assessed the widest implications of their decision-making.
“For instance, I’m sure that they didn’t factor paying several thousand pounds to 31 workers as a result of this botched episode. In addition to asking Highland Council for an explanation, I will be raising this case with Audit Scotland.”