Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 15:32 UK

Union call to scrap Gaelic signs

Bilingual road sign
Bilingual signs have been introduced in the Highlands and the Western Isles

A union has urged Highland Council to end "politically correct" initiatives such as bilingual Gaelic signage rather than cutting jobs.

The authority has warned that hundreds of jobs will have to be cut over the next three years as a result of £60m budget cuts.

Unison spokesman Shane Manning said bilingual signage was one area where cuts could be made without job losses.

The council has already agreed to make £13m worth of savings this year.

Mr Manning said he accepted that the authority would need to make some "tough choices".

"We agree with the council on that but let's look at some of the services we provide and some of the ways money is spent and think about that realistically," he said.

"Unison Highland branch have a mandate from our membership to oppose bilingual signing. It may not be a vast amount of money but it's one example of where money could be saved just now when there are more important things to be spending the money on."

Mr Manning said he was aware of 1,800 appeals, some of them group appeals, against a job evaluation process which can result in wage decreases.

He described warnings by the ruling administration of the need to cut hundreds of jobs as "unhelpful".

He added: "It's a time when many staff are already under pressure. There are many services, we get reports from our staff, that are underesourced at the moment. On goodwill alone some of our staff are keeping things going.

"The threat of further reductions, therefore more stress on those services, is quite frightening to the staff."

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