All the main Council Unions in Luton have signed up to the controversial new “Luton Excellence” initiative, designed to reduce numbers of posts across the Council and deliver new modernised practices.
A Partnership Agreement drawn up between the Council, UNISON, GMB and teachers unions commits all parties to work together to deliver the aims of the Labour programme, which will be driven by a core team of seven consultant-style managers paid £350,000 a year. The Unions have accepted the modernisation and change programme being driven by the Labour Executive, and its implications for roles and job numbers.
Much of the language of the document signed up to reflects the nature of the efficiency drive. The Agreement states that “Employees who understand that the Council cannot stand still can make a larger contribution to improving services and improving the Council” and that “the Council and the recognised Trades Unions will work together to promote and deliver the workforce implications of change and improvement.”
Principles the Unions have signed up to include “recognising that officer roles, working methods, organisation structures and locations may change”, “flexibility with openness to change”, “making best use of resources”, “explaining the reasons behind decisions” and “acceptance of shared responsibility.”
To help them support the efficiency programme, the Unions will see two part-time staff have their hours increased to become Full Time posts at a cost to taxpayers of £28,000 a year.
Councillor Anna Pedersen, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Customer Service, HR and Performance issues, says: “The meaning behind the language is clear. The latest efficiency drive will see significant numbers of posts go but the emphasis will be on redeployment, which the Council and the Unions will now work closely together on.”
“The Union having signed up to their role in delivering the efficiencies, will be given extra support as the Council makes two of their part-time posts full-time.”
“We’ll have to see if the partnership ends up being in the interests of either Council staff or Union members whose posts may be affected.”