Argyll and Bute Council has started formal consultation with the trades unions and employee representatives on redundancy as part of its efforts to reduce its budget by 15% over the next three years.
The council has not issued any formal redundancy notices and will not consider issuing redundancy notices until after final decisions have been made in February about next year’s budget. The council will not know if redundancy notices are required before then.
Reviews of nine council services, carried out during the summer, have identified new ways to deliver services and, as a result, have looked at how many employees are needed to make this happen. More services will be reviewed next year.
Chief Executive Sally Loudon said “The council is committed to working closely with trades unions to make sure that the consultation is meaningful and that any possible future compulsory redundancies are reduced as far as possible. The draft service reviews have identified a pool of more than 600 non-teaching posts from which a number of redundancies might arise’’.
More than 400 of the posts are those whose terms and conditions relating to working patterns could be changed, rather than the jobs being lost.
Although the council has asked employees to volunteer for redundancy it is now clear compulsory redundancies may need to be considered.
Expressions of interest will be considered in conjunction with the draft service reviews and where possible redundancy will be offered to volunteers.
It is unlikely the volunteers will provide an exact skills match to redundant posts. The council is now carrying out an exercise to see where volunteers can be matched to potential redundant posts making sure skills necessary for future service delivery are retained.
The council is looking at options to reduce redundancies as far as possible.
Chief Executive Sally Loudon is aware this is a difficult time. She explains:
“We have been actively trying to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies by offering staff the option to volunteer or look at different working patterns. We are attempting to match the requests for voluntary redundancy to employee changes identified in the draft service reviews.
“It will not be possible to release all of those employees who have volunteered for redundancy as some of those posts will still be needed. We may have to consider compulsory redundancies for some posts.
“As a result we have started a formal consultation process with the trades unions, who will consult on behalf of all employees. The consultation will end on 3 February 2011. During this time we’ll continue to consider options which will reduce the number of potential compulsory redundancies we might need to make. This includes looking for redeployment opportunities. However, we need to be realistic and accept that if we are to make our 15% savings target then compulsory redundancies must be considered.”
No decisions have been made about any posts. Proposals made in the draft service reviews will be decided at the council budget meeting in February 2011.
The Chief Executive continued:
“I appreciate that this is a worrying and uncertain time for everyone and we will move to implement any decisions as quickly as possible to minimise the period of uncertainty. However, the council remains committed to minimising the number of compulsory redundancies we have to make and to ensuring the residents of Argyll and Bute continue to receive the services they need.”
The council is required by legislation to consult on a formal basis if more than 100 posts are identified as being at risk of redundancy. This does not mean that all identified posts will be made redundant.
Argyll and Bute Council employs 4143 staff, in 3235 FTE posts. This does not include teaching staff.
Letters were sent to employees in June and again in October asking them to volunteer for redundancy or early retirement.
Employees could express an interest in these options up to the end of October 2010.
The council’s salary bill for 2010-11 is £121.8 million.