Prospect and the Public and Commercial Services union will be holding a press conference to launch the petition (see below) at 1pm on Wednesday June 25 in the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh.
The relocation proposals are also the subject of a motion to the Scottish Parliament that has won widespread support from MSPs, many of whom are expected to attend the press conference to show their support.
The petition is the latest move in the union’s fight against proposals that threaten up to 90% of the heritage agency’s Edinburgh staff with redundancy, at a cost to the public purse of more than £25m..
Rather than creating jobs in Inverness, staff believe the proposals will decimate the SNH’s skills base as many of its specialised scientific staff, such as soil scientists and geologists, will be unwilling to relocate.
Alan Denney, Prospect negotiator, said: "Traditionally, SNH has had to recruit from outside Scotland and overseas to find the specialised staff needed to undertake work to protect Scotland’s natural resources.
"Finding candidates with the required in-depth knowledge prepared to relocate to Edinburgh was difficult. Asking people to relocate again will only make the problem worse and the ability to recruit in future to Inverness is unproven."
The unions are also consulting on a legal challenge on the grounds that the Executive failed to carry out meaningful consultation with staff over the redundancy proposals. Seventy per cent of SNH’s 850 staff already work outside Edinburgh in 38 locations.
You can sign the e-petition now. The text of the petition is as follows:
An E-Petition on behalf of the staff of Scottish Natural Heritage to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee
We the undersigned declare that the decision by the Scottish Executive to relocate the headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage is contrary to the principles of the Scottish Executive’s policy on the dispersal of public sector jobs on the grounds of both efficiency and effectiveness.
The decision is contrary to the recommendations made in the consultants report commissioned by SNH, and funded by the Executive, and the recommendation of the SNH Board. The decision also fails to meet the criteria for relocation as published by the Scottish Executive It is by far the most expensive of the options considered, and therefore represents poor value for money for the taxpayer and will do nothing to assist the local economy of deprived areas.
As a direct consequence of the proposed relocation it is anticipated that 200 of the 270 staff in Edinburgh will be made redundant. This will not only be a huge cost to the taxpayer but will result in lasting damage to one of SNH’s core capabilities: its highly experienced and qualified advisory staff who provide services to Government, partners and the public.
We urge the Parliament to investigate this decision and its consequences, in particular the ability of SNH to deliver its functions on behalf of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish taxpayers and to examine the value for money of the proposed move. We would also urge that should it be shown that the relocation is neither efficient nor effective, then the decision should be withdrawn.
Sign the e-petition now. The closing date for signatures is 15 August.