Unions say members are worried about how recent government budgets might impact Bedford council

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
There is a general anxiety about job insecurity it is claimed

Bedford Borough Council unions say their members are worried about how the two recent government budgets may impact the council.

Susan Edwards, UNISON, told the council’s Employee Partnership Committee (Tuesday, November 29) that union members have a general anxiety about job insecurity, particularly after the recent “budget mayhem” in government.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“They’re concerned how this is going to impact the council, they already feel that they’re under pressure and their work load is really high,” she said.

Council officesCouncil offices
Council offices

“And now they’ve got job insecurity [worries] at a time of the cost of living crisis and their bills are rising.

“[Members] want to know what the council is planning to do in response to what’s happening in central government,” she said.

Alison Macaulay, manager for HR strategy and workforce development, said the council aims to keep staff as well informed as it possibly can.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It is about regular communications, being transparent with staff, and with the trade unions, so they know what’s happening within the council,” she said.

“We do have our regular HR/trade union meetings and we discussed some of these issues already within these meetings, and obviously would want to continue to do so,” she said.

Martin Foster, GMB Beds County branch secretary, said: “If we are informed straight away if something is going to happen then we are able to tell [members] that we are engaged with the process, and give them reassurance that we are looking after their interest,” he said.

Ms Macaulay added that she appreciated and understood the pressures council staff are facing.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I think we’re all feeling the pressures of work at the moment, and we are looking at mechanisms to make sure that we are recruiting to our critical posts,” she said.

“And we’ve got some principles and a framework agreed whereby we can move some of our temporary people into permanent positions without having to go through the whole normal recruitment process and trying to enable people to get into post quickly.

“We’re also looking at a recruitment and retention strategy within the council, so looking at a holistic approach so that we can recruit and retain the best and actually trying to find out why people are leaving the organisation as well so that we are much better informed,” she said.

Councillor Lousie Jackson (Labour, Harpur) asked: “How can we [as a panel] look at some of those exit interviews to see what they’re telling us, and incorporate that into how we treat staff going forward and make sure that we are addressing any issues and looking for patterns?”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ms Macaulay replied: “If we could work with the trade unions first to make sure that we can get the information.

“Obviously we need to make sure that there’s no personal information included within that.”

Councillor Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North) said: “I agree that analysis of those exit interviews would be good, because there are people out there who would be first to say, ‘oh cutbacks, you’re making staff redundant left, right, and centre’.

“My observation is that we absolutely don’t do that, we fit people into other jobs and that we try to keep our employees because they are our strength,” she said.