Dumped by text

Any excuse to put a picture of Eric Pickles with a knife!

Sometimes there are stories from our Local Authorities which we choose not to write. There are many reasons for this; we don’t want to embarrass our employers or give the impression that we don’t both enjoy our jobs and believe that our local authority is providing excellent public services that people really value.

However, where a story is indicative of the problems facing the sector right now and where we can keep the authority and ourselves anonymous it makes sense to tell it; even if we do so rather cautiously.

Today is one of those days.

As the more observant of you will have noticed most of us who write for this blog have found our way onto the redundancy list of our respective local authorities. However, in my case this happened in a somewhat less than conventional way.

As has been mentioned in other places the cuts to local authority budgets have come deep and fast. My authority had planned to announce the details of our restructure at a series of all-staff meetings. However, there was too much work to do so the announcement was delayed for a few days. It was then delayed again and again and as is natural the rumours circulated over when we would find out.

When we did find out, it happened in a slightly unconventional way:

We were told of our possible redundancy by e-mail.

And not just any e-mail; an e-mail with a link to a shared file with details of everyone’s jobs in it. You then had to sort through the documents to find your job, whilst shouting across the office to your colleagues as you found their post and discovered that they were in the same ring-fence (i.e. competing for the same job) as you or hadn’t been protected and were likely to be let go.

If ever there was a situation that demanded gallows humour this was it.

I don’t know what I expected but this was not it. We all knew the redundancies were coming but receiving an e-mail during a random afternoon was probably the most deflating thing I have ever experienced in local government.

Now, I should say that my manager was a star. He made every possible effort to keep our team informed and it wasn’t really a surprise when I found myself in one of the ‘at risk’ areas. He had already told us that this was the plan. However, this wasn’t a corporate message and many people literally found out that they were going to lose their job by e-mail; it simply isn’t right.

In case you are wondering whether the rant has a point it is this: I am 100% certain that had this restructure happened one year ago it would have been dealt with properly; staff would have been given individual packs and meetings would have been held to explain the situation as the notice was sent out. It wouldn’t have happened by e-mail.

In my mind it didn’t happen this time because of the situation we are in.

The simple fact is that the cuts are overwhelming in nature. Senior managers are balancing a hundred and one different agendas and because of this I can’t help believing that simple good manners and sympathy to staff member is being missed.

This is a real shame and possibly yet another victim of the credit crunch and the age of austerity. I have been told that the responsible Directors came round to apologise later that week (apparently for one of them it was rather a grudging apology) so credit to them; a little too late but fair play.

All I can hope is that this isn’t emblematic of the way things are going in Local Government and that when the time comes to let us go and escort us from the building that this isn’t done by e-mail!

Explore posts in the same categories: Big P Politics, The future of Local Govt, We love the Council

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11 Comments on “Dumped by text”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by WeLoveLocalGov, PublicSectorBloggers. PublicSectorBloggers said: Dumped by text: Any excuse to put a picture of Eric Pickles with a knife! Sometimes there are stories from our L… http://bit.ly/ia7I9y […]

  2. citizenr Says:

    I was called on my mobile phone. As it happened I was at my desk but it was still unpleasant getting the call in the middle of a busy office and hearing my colleagues go silent as they realised what was hapening…

  3. LG Worker Says:

    I hope you are right about the authority doing it properly before all the cuts set in. Only bad communication seems to be something restructures, even before the cuts, are often effected from.

  4. theaudacityofboats Says:

    Doesn’t sound too different from my experience of being under review – whilst there was a lot of consultation and the restructure team did hold meetings with staff, all the crucial announcements, including which people are going to be affected and which jobs they could apply for, have been done by email. I wasn’t too bothered but I know a lot of colleagues were – especially those without good managers to keep them informed in the run-up.

    But what you say about the mad dash by overburdened senior managers to make cuts also rings true to me. We’ve recently relinquished our work mobiles, had training courses cut (and those which are left relocated to a free and slightly grotty venue) and lost our bottled water (fair play!).

    But the real frustration is that these aren’t going to get us very far: what’s needed is a wholesale look across the whole council for the most suitable places to make reductions, given our priorities (as has been done for one service – mine – as mentioned above, but only one) but Members won’t have it. For some reason they seem unable to grasp the gravity of the situation and it’s becoming increasingly likely that this will seriously damage our ability to deliver effective services.

  5. […] Dumped by text, a true tale about how local authorities are handling job cuts, from […]

  6. […] read the ever-excellent We Love Local Government blog today with a terrible feeling of recognition and […]

  7. […] detailing how one local government department was given a mass redundancy notice, without warning by mass email.    An agency I worked with, which was cut when the quangos were culled, reports that no help or […]

  8. portraitofa30something Says:

    Unbelievable….or sadly actually at the moment – not so unbelievable!!! I was told the great news today, we had a lovely PowerPoint presentation…but it might as well have been a text message for all the worthwile information we were actually given.

    • localgov Says:

      That’s bad news for you, I’m truly sorry to hear it. I don’t think there’s any easy or nice way of cushioning such bad news, I hope more useful information is forthcoming!

  9. […] Dumped by text, a true tale about how local authorities are handling job cuts, from […]

  10. […] any of us would describe ourselves as particularly naive and we knew what was coming. However, the way it happened, the effect it had on previously reasonable colleagues and the trouble many Local Authorities had […]

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