Branch Secretary’s perspective – Council Reshape

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In June 2014 (Full Council), the Chief Executive brought forward a report providing financial information to assist elected members to develop a five-year financial strategy and a three-year budget. This report was developed further and was approved by elected members at Full Council on 18th Dec 2014. The ambitious proposal for the reduction of directorates from 6 to 4 also incorporated 12 service reviews over a 3-year period and an ERVS programme based on historical estimates.

A number of areas of concern were raised from staff engagement sessions held and were included in the 18th Dec 2014 report. These were;

In the Reshape of the Council – Progress Report 26th March 2015 dates were provided for the completion of structures;

Let’s zoom forward to the present day, February 2017, almost 2 years from the first progress report in March 2015. Has the Council achieved its goal or has it failed?

In the last Reshape Update in Sept 20th 2016, apparently the only Directorate having not completed its restructure was EEI. Why is it then that Unison is still being invited to consultation talks about matching pools for Communities and CYPLL? We are now almost a year later than advertised for Communities and we still don’t have stability and now the council must be looking at the next reshape which will inevitably happen due to austerity and year on year reductions from the Scottish Government settlement figures.

It was also everybody’s understanding that this reshape would be just targeting management – in practice this has proven not to be the case with almost all departments using the matching process for their new structure in posts below band 10. Clearly this was not in the original proposal put to elected members for approval in December 2014.

Where Change Management fails is not just the delay or the complexity of combining the 12 service reviews and an ERVS programme with a reduction in directorates but it fails at the fundamental level of preparation of staff. Managers are expected to embrace these changes but are they fully prepared? Have they received the appropriate change management training and development to clearly realize that leadership style has to be transformed? Many managers are finding themselves in new roles that they have little experience in and no requisite qualifications because the Matching Policy does not require successful candidates to have the essential criteria. No change management training has been provided to those new roles created to help managers adapt to their new environment. Management training has been penciled in by HR and will be rolled out over the next 18 months. Is this the right training and is it too late for this reshape or is it just in time for the next one?

To sum up, the groundwork for the Reshaping of Council involved staff engagement where staff raised a number of issues which were acknowledged in the report and have been subsequently ignored. The staff asked for this Reshape to be completed in a timely manner; this has not happened. A five-year period of stability was supposed to be introduced but the financial strategy that the Reshape is based upon runs out in 2019/2020, 3 years’ time. A cultural change was supposed to be introduced throughout the council; what I believe has happened is the imposition of brutal and draconian recruitment practices on all staff and not just the management tier as indicated in the initial proposal. This is an appeal to Senior Management and Elected Members, next time don’t just pay lip service to your staff actually do something about their concerns and make sure any future Reshape is staff and public-centered and not just about finances.

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PRESS RELEASE: Public services short-changed by MacKay Today's budget falls short of the commitment to our public workers and services that we demanded at our rally today. After today's budget Derek MacKay can expect to see a sustained campaign from public workers to begin restoring livelihoods. The issue of public sector pay will not disappear. Whilst worker pressure has already achieved some incremental increase from the UK’s austerity approach, it is not acceptable that so many public service workers, including teachers, fire fighters and many nurses, should face further pay cuts. We recognise that the Finance Secretary has a difficult job in protecting Scotland’s budget against UK austerity. The smug self-satisfaction of the Scottish Tories belies the havoc that their government is wreaking on public services across the UK. However the SNP made several ambitious manifesto commitments and says it wants to do right by public workers. So now was the time to be bold. Scottish workers have made their demands clear, and dialogue between the STUC and Derek MacKay has emphasised the urgency of a real-terms pay rise for all public workers. Every public worker in Scotland deserves a pay-rise at inflation-level or above. This means that the Finance Secretary has to be clear he is funding every area of public sector provision to ensure this can be delivered. We will be looking particularly closely at the detail of the budget, but are disappointed in the real terms cuts in resource funding for local government. Whilst its good that the debate on tax has finally begun, the STUC is disappointed that the Scottish Government has not used their powers to make a significant commitment to public service investment and public worker pay. £20 a week additional tax for someone earning £2000 a week is simply too little when public services are at breaking point. To find more resources the Finance Secretary could have abandoned the Small Business Bonus scheme which drains the economy of £200 million a year with no evidence that it is the best way to invest in local economies. If it is to exist, it must focus on creating jobs that pay at least the Living Wage. Public workers will now be seriously doubting this government’s commitment to our services.

Today the Scottish Government set their budget which will dedicate what money the public sector has within Scotland . UNISON has made it clear that there should be no more cuts !!!

Unison has also made it clear that the public sector pay cap must go and that work must be done to compensate workers for their loss of wages over the last seven years !!!

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