As the Council begins a new wave of cuts, figures obtained by Camden UNISON demonstrate that compulsory redundancies are avoidable. Over the last four years while the Council has made nearly 450 compulsory redundancies it has hired over 2100 new staff, but only redeployed 78. But to get the Council to change course will take pressure from UNISON members.
Official Council figures show that in the period of cuts 2010 up to now in which the Council made £93 million of cuts, they made 448 compulsory redundancies, at an average cost of £16,500 each.
But from April 2010 up to April 2014 alone the Council hired over 2100 new staff. And shamefully only redeployed 78 workers at risk of redundancy.
It means that for every 28 new posts created or recruited to, only one current employee got redeployed while six were made redundant.
There are also a significant number of agency workers deployed in the authority: 240 in Housing and Adult Social Care alone, with 12% of staff spending on agency workers in HASC in the last year.
Overall the borough spent £12.5 million making redundancies.
As you will probably know, the Council have now approved a further savings target of £73 million over the next three years, which they estimate will mean a reduction of 600 posts. This is fewer posts than have been in the last four years.
And over the last four years, nearly 5 times as many new people have been recruited as those made compulsorily redundant. So we think instead of sacking experienced staff, at great expense management should instead use its funds to retrain staff for vacancies elsewhere in the Council.
Especially with the behaviours framework and our new generic job capsules management is acknowledging that we have transferable skills and experience. However this is not being taken into account in reorganisations.
One notable exception was the restructure in HR, where instead of competitive interviews for similar jobs, workers were offered trial periods with training in new posts. We have asked for information on how successful management considered this, because as far as we are aware it was extremely successful, and members elsewhere have asked themselves why different rules have applied to staff in HR than elsewhere.
UNISON has successfully persuaded management to take action to mitigate against compulsory redundancies so far, in many individual restructures. And most members will have seen that management have agreed to advertise all new posts internally for eight days prior to going out to advert. This is a positive step, however alone this will not be enough to protect all members’ jobs.
While we believe we have the arguments to demonstrate that even if the cuts go through, compulsory redundancies are unnecessary, management still intend to sack people. So if we want to stop them, and ensure we can be redeployed to alternate roles, we need to get organised and show we are prepared to take action.
Members at our Annual General Meeting voted unanimously in favour of organising shop meetings and an indicative ballot for industrial action against compulsory redundancies.
Before we have such a vote, we need more members to join, we need people to discuss the cuts in their teams and we need to build support for a strong Yes vote for action to get management to enter serious discussions to avoid compulsory redundancies.
So UNISON members, please recommend to your colleagues to join UNISON and talk to them about why sackings aren’t necessary.
If you’re not yet a member, why not join today? You can do so via our website at camdenunison.org.uk/join