Council blunder as staff sacked by drawing lots

The street cleaners were initially brought in during the Edinburgh Festival

COUNCIL bosses sacked half a street cleaning team– after picking their names out of a cereal bowl.

Edinburgh Council decided to axe seven out of the 13 agency workers but couldn’t decide who would lose their jobs.

A council employee decided the only solution was to “draw lots” and asked the shocked workers’ permission to use the unorthodox selection method.

However the council have now backtracked and reinstated the seven workers, but have warned the positions will still need to go.

In a meeting at the council depot four staff were chosen for redundancy, but bosses “couldn’t decide” which of the remaining workers would receive their P45.

A shift manager then wrote the names of the remaining workers and put them in a cereal bowl.

One employee called the situation as “humiliating”.

They said: “We had to sit in a room while they wrote our names down and put them in a cereal bowl. I’m disgusted by it.

“If they had taken me into the office to say that there was going to be cutbacks and I was going to lose my job, then I could have said fair enough. But to sit us in a room and find out like that was just humiliating.

“It was like we were picking lots for the Grand National.”


The cleaners, who work in the city centre and the Leith area of Edinburgh, were temporarily reinstated following outrage from the employees but are still faced with losing their job as the contractor still has to lay off seven people.

The group were initially brought in during the Edinburgh International Festival and were kept on over the festive period, but none has a permanent contract.

A council spokeswoman said that of the seven employees selected for redundancy, four had been chosen based on their performance reviews.

She said that the remaining three had been chosen at random and had been made with the agreement of the staff involved.

She said: “We need to downsize in order to make budget savings. We made a decision on who to let go from our temporary workforce on the grounds of performance in four individual cases.

“The manager, in consultation and agreement with the staff,  decided that the best way to agree on the remaining three positions was by random selection.

“We felt this was a fair and transparent way to decide, although it would appear not all staff now agree, so we have decided to revisit this.”

However another employee disputed that there had been any consultation and questioned the fairness of the draw.

He said: “There was no discussion, we were jus called in for a meeting and told what was going to happen.

“Everyone was just shocked. We are on temporary contracts so I knoew the job might not last, but this was ridiculous.

“When they started drawing names out of the bowl, I just felt hollow. We didn’t even get to see what names went in, so we’ve no idea if it was even fair.”

The agency, Blue Arrow, were unavailable for comment.