A UNION leader has claimed social work staff are afraid "another Baby P is going to happen" if more cuts are made.

Valerie Jennings, the convener of trade union Unison, told crowds assembled outside a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council last week that more savings could lead to catastrophic problems with services.

Ms Jennings was at the meeting, along with counterparts from Unite, and made a plea to councillors not to cut public services, or allow "restructures".

Baby P, later identified as Peter Connelly, was a 17-month old child who died after sustaining more than 50 injuries over the course of eight months.

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He was subject to a torrent of abuse, which caused a broken back, broken ribs and mutilated fingertips.

Overstretched social workers were blamed for not catching the abuse sooner, something the union convener could be about to hit much closer to home for those in Dumbarton and the Vale.

Speaking to a joint trade union demonstration outside the meeting on Wednesday, at Clydebank Town Hall, she said: "Cuts being imposed by this administration will drastically effect service delivery.

"Cuts to terms and conditions will effect the lower paid, mainly female work force.

"We've been at the forefront of protests fighting cuts and so-called management adjustments.

"Unison members in the social work department are struggling in vastly under-funded and under-resourced childcare services.

"Management chose to close offices in Church Street, Alexandria despite our advice that Aurora House was not fit for purpose, that clients would find it impossible to get to Clydebank to access services and that organising visits in McDonald's were not appropriate.

"All these predictions have come true, there are over 200 unallocated cases, children of West Dunbartonshire who desperately need social work intervention.

"Workers are seriously afraid that another Baby P is going to happen.

"This is the stark reality of needless austerity.

"Management are now attacking our terms and conditions.

"We must unite. We cannot allow this to happen. "We need to take a stand now.

"Make no mistake, the cuts for 2020 are going to hit workers hard and service users even harder.

"Our members are ensuring quality services despite a lack of resources. It's our members who ensure services continue.

"It's our members who go above and beyond.

"But they're working cannot go on indefinitely, something has to give."

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Ms Jennings and her Unite counterpart Margaret Wood were allowed to address the meeting of the council, in hopes of rallying representatives to ensure a no-cuts budget.

Ms Jennings told the meeting: "Unison oppose all cuts.

"This includes so-called "management adjustments". These are cuts, and should be included in budget consultations."

Adjustments are a system of changes made internally to the council, which would see the deletion of posts, or vacancies not being advertised for a replacement, in a bid to save money.

Later in the meeting, council leader Jonathan McColl would say "no jobs have been lost as a result of the restructures", only vacant posts have been deleted.

Ms Jennings continued: "Proposals (for the adjustments) are vague. They should be subject to the same level of detail as other cuts.

"It's up to councillors, as representatives of our community, to insist on this.

"Cuts to our long, and hard fought terms and conditions have been proposed through management adjustments and trade unions have held well-attended mass meetings where members agreed to fight attacks to our terms and conditions by any means necessary."

The union leader turned her ire towards the newly released budget consultation, which has been dubbed by critics as "turkeys voting for Christmas", by asking residents which services they would like to protect.

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She said: "The joint trade unions demand a no cuts option, and an end to duping residents of West Dunbartonshire to choose between essential services, effectively asking 'do you want your right arm or your left arm cut off?'

"Council need to take into account the fact that the people who take part in these consultations, do not represent the majority of our community.

"As an area of high deprivation, many people rely on our services, and by their very nature, some are unable to take part in consultations.

"The joint trade union stands side by side with our members and out community to get the message across, that we will no longer accept austerity, paying for the failure of the well off.

"Society is judged by how it treats the poor and vulnerable. Councillors, ask yourselves, how do we treat our poor and vulnerable?

"Make the necessary changes to make sure that West Dunbartonshire is a community we can be proud of.

"Enough is enough. We deserve better."

Council leader Jonathan McColl told the union leaders that cuts had come from central government, and weren't what councillors wanted, but what they had to do.

He said: "Frankly, the country is going to 'hell in a handcart'. The economy is in the toilet, and god knows what's going to happen after Brexit.

"We really need to work together on this."

Mr McColl asked the union leaders if they would consider joining a delegation to the Scottish Parliament, along with cross-party councillors, to speak with Finance Secretary Derek McKay before the budget is set.

Community Party councillor Jim Bollan said: "There's going to be a massive battle over the next couple of years, and the services delivered by your members are vital, and help the most vulnerable in society.

"What needs to happen is their needs to be a union between trade unions, the community and any political party that supports this, to start a broad-based public campaign against any cuts.

"We should refuse to set a budget that features any cuts."

Labour councillor David McBride also thanked the unions for their attendance, asking if they could demand an answer as to why funding from the Scottish Government to councils has dropped by 6.9 per cent, while the funding to Holyrood from Westminster has fallen by just 1.6 per cent since 2014-15.

He said: "Could you express our concern on that, and ask the Scottish Government if they will fund us the same way the Tories fund Scotland."