The Council have now informed staff of the proposal to make 68 FTE (full time equivalent) posts redundant as a result of the financial position caused by COVID-19 and lockdown measures.
The Trade Union Side (TUS) representatives met with the Chief Executive and Directors this morning to discuss the initial proposal and to address initial staff concerns.
Local Councillors have been faced with agreeing cost saving measures but it has not been made clear to NIPSA which, if any, other measures were considered. It has been explained that recovery from this financial loss through ratepayers would require raising rates beyond 20%. Councillors are not willing to put this measure in place and agreed to look at staffing as a cost saving measure.
The TUS have now requested, on more than one occasion, the financial figures which detail the extent of the financial impact felt by ANBC during lockdown and to what extent these redundancies would address this deficit. At this point, the Council have not provided the level of specific information required for TUS to properly consider the position.
Local Councillors were given 3 options to consider for redundancy pay, 1.2 weeks, 2.2 weeks and 3.46 weeks. Councillors took the decision to offer a multiplier of just 1.2 on top of a weeks’ pay for each year of service, for those in a redundancy position.
The Council hope to make initial redundancies through volunteers. It is unlikely that there will be many volunteers at the current rate offered by the Council. The Council are exploring the possibility of getting additional funding for an improved voluntary redundancy offer.
At this stage, the Council have identified “at risk” groups. NIPSA questioned the process used to determine which departments have been placed at risk. The Council confirmed that this has been based on current workloads and service needs.
NIPSA raised objections to services being measured at this unprecedented time. Concerns were raised relating to the apparent lack of foresight being used for future staff and service needs.
NIPSA does not endorse the decision made by Councillors to reduce the staffing complement within the Council. This appears to be a knee-jerk financial reaction to what should be a temporary circumstance, which will not be sustainable to continue services in the future and will be detrimental to ratepayers when services resume. With the current information provided and the distinct lack of financial information, NIPSA cannot determine if redundancies are a necessary measure. NIPSA are furthermore opposed to the rate of redundancy pay that is currently being proposed.
NIPSA have requested a meeting with the Party Leaders to discuss the redundancy decision and the redundancy pay rate. NIPSA will continue to lobby politicians on members' behalf and publicly oppose job cuts. NIPSA will provide support to those members at risk throughout this process.