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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