UNISON and GMB reps walked out of a meeting with senior managers in Neighbourhoods and Growth this week due to their complete failure to consult in any meaningful way and a persistent disregard for their own policies – staff have had enough!
Yesterday, Wednesday 20th June, UNISON and the GMB have walked out of a consultation meeting with the senior management of Neighbourhoods & Growth. We did not take this decision lightly, but we felt that because of the complete failure of senior management to act with transparency, consistency and with integrity, we had no other realistic choice.
The reality is that the N&G restructure has not been a meaningful consultation with staff or unions.
At the consultation meeting the Strategic Director of N&G told the trade unions that two of the three teams (Homes and Communities, Major Capital Programmes) that had been taken out of the restructure on the 30th April have now been told that they are now back in the restructure! UNISON asked whether the staff, who are likely to be stressed and confused, were given an explanation – the answer was ‘no’. The management team collectively advised that the Chief Executive had taken them out of the restructure and the Chief Executive has now decided that they should go back in.
But the management team did not finish there. In response to a formal request from the trade unions for the results of the assimilation panels decisions we were told that these decisions were made by the management team with support from HR. This means that the same senior managers who designed the new structure also decided who would keep a job and who would not! Further we were told that the decisions were made on the 2 May 2018 by N&G Management Team with HR. This response suggests that management carried out the procedure to decide who would be assimilated after publishing the decision on who would be assimilated in February 2018.
UNISON’s primary concern with the assimilations is that it looks like senior managers gave their friends pay rises (all the SMG3 managers who became SMG2 managers for instance) whilst staff on lower grades face redundancies. This is why we wanted to see the notes of the assimilation panel – management are required to provide these by law. Their refusal to do so indicates the contempt in which they hold Council procedures and policies. There is also an equalities issue here – how many white managers have been given promotions and how many BME staff are facing redundancy?
This is just the latest in a shopping list of procedural breeches in the N&G restructure which includes –
• Not provide documentation at the initial meeting with trade unions 24 hours before the restructure is announced formally to staff – as is standard practice and as is required in the procedure.
• Removing entire teams from the restructure at a late stage without giving an honest and transparent reason to staff or unions
Failing to produce a revised Business Case when the structure changed without explanation
• Refusal by the Strategic Director to treat staff consistently with other staff across the Council by insisting on carrying out generic reduction interviews before expressions of interest as is standard practice
• Falsely advising staff that there were vacant posts that had already been recruited to.
• Refusing union requests for job evaluation scores
UNISON will be organising a meeting for members in N&G to decide what to do next. We are facing what appears to be a renegade management who believe they are unanswerable to anyone and workers at Lambeth Council need to have a collective response to this problem.