UNISON recently responded to the Stage 2 Target Operating Model consultation on behalf of the Aberdeen City Branch. We've sought to represent the views of our members and highlight specific areas of concern for some services. The consultation refers specifically to the "Interim Functional Structure" and the process of changing Head of Service/Chief Officer posts to align to this structure.
Providing feedback has been challenging as the consultation offered limited information. The consultation provides some additional detail to the Target Operating Model, but does not address the uncertainty it has caused for our members. There is no clear information about where jobs will end up, whether they will change, or even if jobs will no longer exist. This makes it challenging to provide effective feedback where the Council has not provided detail on its plans, intentions or objectives.
A leaner workforce could lead to redundancies
UNISON is particularly concerned about the potential for redundancies within this structure. The aim of a “smaller, leaner workforce” is clearly not possible on the scale required through voluntary severances and early retirement alone. Management have consistently refused to state the value of savings assigned to employee numbers within the transformation programme. It is appreciated that a precise figure may not be known, but to have estimated that £125m of cuts is possible will have required a ballpark figure to be included.
We are committed to no compulsory redundancies and protecting our members terms and conditions. Removing jobs from establishment and using time-limited redeployment processes will clearly be insufficient in this model. If the workforce is to be smaller and leaner, there will necessarily be fewer jobs and therefore no real opportunities to redeploy displaced workers. While this might not fulfil the Council’s definition of a compulsory redundancies, it meets the spirit of it.
More work with fewer people will cause anxiety
Many of our members are concerned that their workload will increase substantially with these proposals. Where employees have already been released under VS/ER and fixed term contracts have been released, some teams are coming under significant pressure. This has caused stress, anxiety and unreasonable pressure to pick up work where the Council refuses to fill vacancies. A further reduction in the number of employees could result in services suffering, poorer outcomes for the public, and a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our members.
How can you help us?
If you have a concern that you want to raise with us about the Target Operating Model, or want ask us a question about how we're approaching this, please fill in our TOM Feedback Form. You can also volunteer to help us challenge management and speak out for our members by getting involved in the union. It's your job, your voice, and your union
Some early wins for UNISON
- Digital & Technology (IT) will now be a single service under the Customer function
- Bereavement Services re-aligned to retain links to the Crematorium
- Resources to be provided in Commissioning to support in-house bids for services
We still have many arguments to win including a commitment to keeping services in public hands, effective redeployment to protect against compulsory redundancies, and standing in solidarity with colleagues whose services are negatively impacted. This is just the first step on a long journey.