Branch talks with Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services, on behalf of UNISON members in CLD have culminated in a commitment to better communication and consultation with staff on proposed changes for the delivery of community learning services.
Senior management has also agreed to meet with all staff, although a date for this in March was cancelled and a further date is awaited.
The branch had issued a survey to all CLD members towards the end of last year, after concerns were expressed about how changes were being managed and about a growing fear culture within the service.
Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair said, “The survey showed widespread member concern about a number of different aspects of CLD.
“Members said that communication was poor and they worried that this undermines consistency of service across Aberdeenshire. They also spoke of hierarchical management and a “culture of fear” which prevents staff raising concerns.
“They do not feel involved in the planned changes to service delivery and worry that the direction of travel will significantly undermine the services they provide in their communities.”
In their meeting with management the Branch called for a number of measures to address members concerns.
Kate said, “These included the setting up of a whole service meeting to look at the planned changes, the reasons behind them and to offer all staff the opportunity to discuss how best they can be implemented within national, Aberdeenshire and local priorities, followed up by clear guidance for staff.
“We also called for a review of management practices with a specific focus on communication with staff and the tackling of the blame culture which our members have reported. We are looking for a more inclusive, empowering ethos, which values staff in the way Aberdeenshire Council prides itself on doing, and which is critical in enabling CLD staff to provide an excellent service to the people they work with.
“We raised the need to ensure that the recording systems are fit for purpose and avoid duplication; and we called for a commitment to proper staff training, including induction for new staff, child protection and training on new systems/approaches to service delivery.”
The Branch has now received a letter from the Director confirming her intention along with the Head of Service, to meet the full CLD staff team, with a commitment to improving communication and prioritising opportunities for continuing professional development. This has been shared with members.
Naida Sneddon, CLD Stewards and Vice Chair of the Branch said, “We welcome the commitment to listen to and involve staff in taking the service forward. We now need to see this commitment translated into practice.”