SNP councillors have rejected a bid for a second public holiday for their staff in May as a row erupted over class.

West Dunbartonshire Council’s (WDC) ruling administration claimed unions agreed to mark International Workers Day on May 8 instead of May 4, 2020, coinciding with honouring the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

But the joint trades union (JTU) have hit back and said it was “untrue” that they ever agreed to the idea. And they plan to protest at the next council meeting over it.

A bitter debate erupted at the full council meeting last week when Councillor Jim Bollan proposed keeping the May 4 anniversary as well as May 8, at an estimated cost of £100,000.

Instead the SNP proposed an amendment to take “no action” claiming there was an agreement between the JTU and management at a meeting in June to move the date.

SNP councillor Diane Docherty hit out at Cllr Bollan for only being for the working class while “everybody” died in the war.

And Cllr Bollan branded the SNP as the party of “big business” and “multi- millionaires”.

He pointed out that Inverclyde and North Ayrshire councils had already agreed to the day off and it would be a “really good way to say thank you” to hardworking staff.

The SNP’s Councillor Ian Dickson replied that it could cost £1/2 million in lost productivity.

He said they would also have to get permission to reduce teaching days and would likely be refused.

Cllr Dickson added that Inverclyde had only seven bank holidays a year for staff, while WDC staff had between eight and 12.

Labour’s Councillor Lawrence O’Neill jokingly said he wanted to jump in before “comrades” Brian Walker and Sally Page, the two Tory councillors.

He backed Cllr Bollan and said costs for both could be met by reserves.

But council leader Jonathan McColl said it would work out as 6,000 working days lost from a bank holiday, with trade unions already telling them they struggle to cover when colleagues are off sick.

He said: “I tell you it puts a hell of a lot more pressure on when the entire team is off and they all have to come in and do double the work to catch up. I think it’s perfectly reasonable we follow the lead of other councils across Scotland that we change the date to recognise this special anniversary.

“The vast majority of those who lost their lives were working class people and I see nothing wrong with moving the date, remembering and celebrating their contribution to the fight for democracy and freedom.”

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Cllr Docherty condemned councillors O’Neill and Bollan for their comments.

She said: “The constant comments on this about working class people - everybody died in this war. They were working class, middle class, rich. They didn’t pick and choose - everybody died in this war.

“As a working class person who came up in a working class family, to be asked twice in 75 years to change the date to represent and respect those millions of people who died in that war, I don’t have an issue with that.

“I actually find it really insulting that you are just constantly only working class.

“That constant disrespect to a lot of other people who died in that war ... I’m sorry.”

Cllr Bollan insisted there was no agreement with trade unions, despite the SNP’s assurances.

He said: “The SNP have let the mask slip today - the so-called ‘working class party’.

“You always have been an anti-trade union party because the core of your party is made up of big business, land owners and multi-millionaires.”

The final vote saw eight councillors back Cllr Bollan’s motion and 11 side with the SNP amendment.

The JTU issued a statement after the meeting asserting they rejected the proposal to move May Day to May 8.

They said: “The Joint Trade Unions have called a demonstration at the next council meeting on November 27 to express their discontent over this imposed change but also over the council’s continuation to carry on with their policies of cuts.”

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