Employer stalls - Let's Deliver a Clear Message - Vote for Action

Dear UNISON Member

You will recall that we carried out a consultative ballot around the imposed Managing Workforce Change policy. You responded by voting overwhelmingly in favour of strike action and action short of strike, giving your branch officers a clear mandate to inform discussions with the employer. We met with the employer on 18 April and again on 8 May where it was clear that although there was willingness to talk about the three contentious issues, there was no willingness to remove any preconditions set when they imposed these changes.

The three contentious issues are:

  1. Removing the no compulsory redundancy policy
  2. Capping flexible retirement at 2 years
  3. Reducing cash conservation (pay protection) from 3 years to 1 year

Given the strength of feeling we received as a result of the consultative ballot and the unwillingness of the employer to engage in negotiations without their preconditions, then we are left with no option other than to formally ballot you for industrial action.

The employer has been served notice today of our intention to ballot members from 16 May 2019. That ballot will end on 6 June 2019. You will be aware of the ballot threshold introduced by the current Westminster government which mean that more than 50% of members must vote in the ballot, we therefore urge all members to participate. Ballot papers will be sent to home address and this ballot covers both Dundee City Council and Leisure & Culture Dundee members.

We have organised a UNISON members meeting for Monday 20 May at 17:30 in The Steps Theatre, Wellgate Centre, Dundee. Your branch officers and reps will be there to answer any questions you have and this will also allow us to discuss what action might look like. Please make every effort to attend.

We will be working closely with Unite and the GMB who are also balloting their members. Lets send a huge message to the employers that the way they have treated you and your union reps is unacceptable. We will continue to make ourselves available to talk to the employers who somehow expect us to trust them and just accept how they imposed the Managing Workforce Change policy. You have likely received the communication sent to you last night by the employer, where they attempt to justify what they did and convince you that you should just accept it and that it has all been done for your benefit.

That communication is full of contradictions and is an attempt to cast doubt in your mind about taking action, it is an attempt to undermine any action you plan to take. You should probably expect more communications like that as the ballot process gets underway, we will not be drawn in to petty squabbles with the employer. Instead we will inform our members and encourage you all to participate in the ballot, ultimately trying to negotiate with the employer from a level playing field.

We will now be writing to all Councillors seeking support to have this policy decision reversed to allow meaningful negotiations to take place, essentially resetting the clock back to 17 February 2019.  We plan on lobbying the next Policy & Resources Committee at the City Square on 3 June at 5pm, if you can attend and show Councillors your strength of feeling then that would be appreciated.  

Lets tell the your employer that Enough is Enough.

Dundee City Council and LACD members vote resoundingly YES for action if employers don't rethink

Unison members at Dundee City Council and Leisure and Culture Dundee have sent a defiant message to their employers over the so-called “Managing Workforce Change” policy.

Over the last weeks they have been undergoing a consultative ballot which asked members if they would be prepared to take action (up to and including strike action), if the Employer(s) did not remove 3 of the key changes to terms and conditions within the policy (forced through, without consultation at a P&R committee on 18th February).

The 3 changes were:

  • Removing the long-held commitment to “No Compulsory Redundancies”
  • Cutting Pay protection from 3 years to 1 year
  • Forcing those seeking flexible retirement to retire fully within 2 years

Unison has made clear that it sees these changes as a toolkit for management to quickly make redundancies and sweeping reductions to pay and conditions. Quite apart from the attack on the already strained workforce, these cuts will have a significant negative impact on the Council services our members deliver. As such, they are entirely unacceptable.

The ballot results indicate that Unison members agree.

In the main DCC workforce, the result was 82.1% YES for action.

In LACD (where the same policy was adopted at the end of March) the result was 90% YES for action.

Although consultative at the moment, Unison is confident it will be progressing to a formal ballot, if the Employers do not reconsider their position.

The other Trades Unions for council LGE employees were also conducting ballots on the same issue among their members

From Unison’s perspective, the message is clear to the employers:

Remove these threats or there will be significant unrest within the DCC/LACD workforce.




The Nuspeak world of DCC

Ask yourself what you think it means when a position is advertised as a secondment?

Do you think it means that if you get the job, your existing substantive post will be kept (perhaps back-filled temporarily) for when your secondment completes?

If you think yes then you need to go on a training course on the language of Dundee City Council HR and Staffing sections.

It has been revealed that staff in DCC are being told posts are open to secondment, applying for them in good faith and being successful at interview, only to be handed secondment papers, at the point of accepting the appointment, that say something like "we cannot guarantee you a post at the same grade on your return and will offer 1 year cash conservation, should this be the case".

DCC HR have thus far failed to respond to Unison questions over this practice.

Our advice to members therefore has to be, if Dundee City Council offer a post as "secondment" opportunity, just smile politely, perhaps offer a rueful shake of the head, and walk away.

Catastrophic Cuts to Tayside Scientific Services

A vital local public health service faces being torn apart by selfish, short-sighted budget decisions.
Cuts hidden away in the budgets of a number of local councils has left a vital public health service fighting for its life.
Tayside Scientific Services had been a shared service between Dundee City, Angus and Perth & Kinross Councils. It provides chemical and biological testing and analysis to public and private bodies across the region. Fife was also a major customer.
Other councils had recently withdrawn from partnership to become customers only, leaving DCC carrying responsibility for the staff and, building and equipment.
This year’s budget rounds has seen contributions to that service shredded.
Dundee City only offered a flat cash budget going forward, despite clear cost pressures making that a real terms cut of more than 5%.
Fife council has cut its contribution from £126k to just £100k,
Angus has cut from £256k to just £100k and Perth and Kinross has completely cut its previous £190k contribution.
Overall this sees funding for the service cut by £372k to just £526k per year starting next month before any cost pressures are applied.
With unavoidable commitments to building and plant costs, this over 40% cut will have a devastating impact on the staffing of the service and could jeopardise its very existence.
Dundee City Council has been left trying to salvage something from the ruins of these selfish political decisions.
It appears no task force has as yet been set up to rescue this service or the jobs of those who provide it. The staff concerned will face the tender mercies of Dundee City’s new “Managing Workforce Change” policy (see coverage of that elsewhere).
Despite the genuine sympathy of the senior manager sent to inform the staff yesterday, who has promised to look at TUPE protection etc, DCC's lack of commitment to avoiding redundancies was demonstrated by the fact no-one was there from HR to explain what plans they had to maintain their employment.
This is only to be expected from an employer that is cutting pay protection while claiming it will do its best to look at redeployment to avoid actual loss, having shown itself completely incapable of doing so in the past over longer periods of protection.
Unison will continue to fight for the best outcome for its members caught in the middle of this mess.
The politicians across the local councils should hang their heads in shame for their selfish short sighted decisions that have threatened the continuation of what is a vital public service.
Other employees of local councils should take note. We cannot simply wait to see where the axe will fall next.