Dumped by text
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!