In a shake-up of school meals up to 80 jobs are set to be lost with over 50 per cent of school kitchens due to close across North Ayrshire.
North Ayrshire Council are to extend their hub and spoke operation across the whole of North Ayrshire and mass job loss is at the fore of the council’s decision.
The new operation outlines that selected kitchens will cook for up to three schools, meaning less staff are required to cook.
Of the 57 schools listed on the council’s plans, 25 schools will remain as hubs (cooking schools) and the remainder of the schools (spokes) will be sent school meals from hubs nearby.
The GMB union – which represents school cooks – has branded the council’s move as appalling after they confirmed the loss of 80 jobs.
Paul Arkison, GMB Scotland Trade Union Official said:
“The cuts to the council’s school catering staff is devastating news to the employees.
“These workers are completely dedicated to the schools they work in and the children they provide meals for.
“Many schools in North Ayrshire will see their kitchens close for cooking and this will inevitably lead to job losses and cuts in hours for those who remain with the service.
“For an area like North Ayrshire which has sadly high levels of poverty and poor health, to attack the school catering service is appalling.
“No matter what the council say, to take nearly half a million pounds out of a catering budget, it will have a hugely negative effect on the service which will be provided and we would ask that the locally elected councillors reconsider this drastic move.”
North Ayrshire Council gave the scheme the green light after nine pilots were trialled over a period of 18 months.
A spokesperson for North Ayrshire Council said: “The council continues to face financial challenges - with increasing demand for services and fewer resources available. Our school catering service is one of the best in Scotland and was recently awarded the prestigious Gold Standard by the Soil Association for our new school menus being introduced from Monday.
“However, in the long term, the cost of this service is unsustainable in its current form. We have, over the last 18 months, piloted a successful Hub and Spoke model to address the reality of our tightening resources. We recognise the changes will affect our employees and have been working closely with the Trades Unions throughout to minimise the impact and provide alternatives for employees where possible.
“The figure quoted by the GMB refers to the estimated number of employees who may be affected. This includes employees required to review how and when they work including varying working hours, location, as well as reduction in posts. We are holding one-to-one meetings with all employees affected to provide all the professional support we can.”