Edinburgh City Council is preparing to shed more than 3,000 jobs and privatise services, as it accelerates action to cut budgets, according to a union.

The public sector union Unison said it feared the cuts - amounting to one in every six Edinburgh council staff - would see more work contracted out and an end to all but core service provision.

Earlier this year, the council said more than 1,200 roles were set to go over the next three years, to help deal with a £67m budget hole, and that this could be achieved without compulsory redundancies. However new council chief Executive Andrew Kerr has already said the timetable for cuts will have to be accelerated.

The plans are expected to be put before the city's Finance and Resources Committee next week and the council is to hold a briefing tomorrow about proposals which will be put before that committee.

John Stevenson, president of Unison's Edinburgh branch said the figure of 3,000 had not been disputed by council officials. "They told us it could well be more," he said. Mr Stevenson added that it was increasingly hard to see how compulsory job losses could be avoided, and controversial privatisation plans rejected by the council in 2012 could be resurrected.

The union has been in talks with management over plans for 'transformational' restructuring, but the job losses now expected were now likely to be more than three times what the union had been expecting. Officials were warning that salami-slicing would no longer bring about the savings needed he said. However the city's politicians may yet reject or modify the plans.

"If there is the political will to save Edinburgh's services from these vicious government cuts, then councillors need to make sure that officials fully understand that," Mr Stevenson said.

He said the Scottish Government should step in with emergency funding while a fairer funding system for councils was negotiated. "There has been a deafening silence on the massive cuts local councils have faced with 40,000 jobs lost in the last few years. The government needs to face up to the crisis and make funding available before services disappear forever."

Cllr Alasdair Rankin, Finance Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The Council has been clear about the scale of the financial challenge facing us for years.  Realistically, to make the necessary savings, we have little option but to consider reducing the number of people who work for the Council. Bearing in mind we are keenly aware that this is about people we will work closely with our staff and the trade unions during this difficult time.

“We are very clear about the size of the challenge and over the coming days we will be outlining our proposed next steps.”