Know your rights: Re-organisations

A short introduction to your rights if your team or department goes through restructuring.

RIGHTS ARE ONLY REAL WHEN THEY CAN BE ENFORCED

This is certainly true in re-organisations where good union organisation and documentation are key to achieving the best outcome possible. If you are a steward and know a re-organisation is on the way you need to: Make sure you have a copy of the Council’s ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE POLICY and the ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE PROCEDURE. Search for them on Essentials. Read them and get to know them. It’s best to be familiar with these two documents before you get on the Re-organisation roller-coaster, when time may be very pressured. Encourage those shop members who are willing to read through them.

The Organisational Change Policy as stated is a reasonable document and contains a useful list of definitions of terms used from Assimilation to Voluntary Redundancy.

Remember the Organisational Change Procedure is more open to management interpretation and interpret it they will. You must be prepared to challenge a manager’s interpretation when it differs from the union view. Make sure you have any other relevant documentation. Has management made any promises or agreements in the past which are relevant?

• If your shop or workplace is not covered by the Council agreements ask for copies of the agreements that do apply to your workplace. Keep asking until you get them. You have a legal right to be given them. Know where your members are and try and recruit those not yet in the union. Keep trying.

• If you have members who are sessional workers it is best to document the hours worked and whether it is regular. Try and get management to agree on the facts. If they have worked regularly over a period of several months they should be given permanent contracts.

• If you have members who work shifts, evenings, weekends etc make sure that what is worked, and for how long they have been working, is documented.

• If they are temporary workers find out how long they have been working and what contract they have.

DURING A RE-ORGANISATION

A lead manager for the re-organisation will be identified. This is the key person in terms of consultation and negotiation. As soon as a re-organisation is announced ask for a copy of the                       Equality Impact Assessment which management should have completed prior to agreeing on the re-organisation process. Check the figures as well as the text. Do not assume the figures will support management’s conclusions as to whether their proposed process is non-discriminatory. If they do not, challenge them. Record your challenge and the response. The Equality Impact Assessment should be re-visited during the re-organisation. Remember it not only applies to staff but to service users.

Regular shop meetings are essential. Collective discussion and response are our lifeblood. Sometimes it is not clear whether what management is proposing is correct or not, so discussion between stewards and members is important. Advice can be sought from convenors and branch officers. The branch can seek legal advice and advice from full time regional officers when appropriate. Make sure you meet to respond to each stage of the process.

Document everything. Keep Emails to and from management. Taking minutes of meetings can be tedious but a record of one can be crucial to winning a case. Make sure you store them in more than one place. You will need to know who should be in the scope of the re-organisation and how to appeal, if appropriate, to someone’s exclusion or inclusion.

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