Unions hit out over planned job cuts at West Dunbartonshire Leisure
By Bill Heaney
Union officials have said that they have serious concerns about planned cuts to West Dunbartonshire Leisure.
They should not expect a sympathetic ear however from Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP group, who has told The Democrat that we give too much support to the trade unions in our coverage of council affairs.
Controversial Cllr McColl, PICTURED, who is standing for re-election in the Lomond Ward on Thursday, May 5, then went on to ban our editor from asking questions about council business.
Last month the public heard how a whistleblower at the leisure trust, which is an “arms length” body warned that a planned reduction in staff would have “a significant impact” on the trust’s ability to provide services.
The planned cuts to West Dunbartonshire Leisure would have seen 5.5 full time equivalent staff dispensed with.
However, the Council claim this will be offset by current vacancies – reducing the impact to 2.6FTE staff.
A new ‘sport and activity team’ will be formed to take on the running of local projects, including the Loch Lomond 10k and sport holiday camps.
And, as per usual, any reorganisation connected with the council involved redundancies.
West Dunbartonshire’s joint trade unions (JTU) Unison, Unite and GMB have stated that they have serious concerns about the approach taken by leisure trust management to their proposed restructure of services, and the impact any changes will have on the services provided to the local community.
A statement issued by the JTU said: “Members were called to a meeting with less than 24 hours-notice, with no agenda sent in advance, to be advised by management that the leisure trust board had approved plans involving cuts to staffing.
“Members were advised of this during a 10 minute meeting where there was no opportunity to contribute to a revised plan or to ask any questions.
“During a recent meeting with senior management within the leisure trust the JTU expressed our concerns around process and lack of staff involvement.
“The JTU made it clear that these proposals do not meet with Scottish Government policy, nor do these proposals marry with SportScotland’s aims and objectives.
“West Dunbartonshire overall scores within the bottom 15 percent of communities nationwide according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, with some of our areas within the authority scoring within the bottom 5 percent.
“Services within our communities should be enhanced in order to provide opportunity for all, with increased funding being provided to the leisure trust in the recent WDC budget setting, our members are dismayed with these proposed cuts.
“Not only are the JTU’s against this current proposal, we also have grave concerns about how this process has been managed, which has prompted our members to feel a lack of trust and confidence in proceedings.”
West Dunbartonshire Leisure claim the cuts would not have an impact on frontline services, and that trade unions agreed to the organisational change.
However, the council has not reduced the management fee they charge for the coming year.
The trust is using £740,000 of its reserves but they don’t know how long they can sustain that in the current economic climate.
A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Leisure added: “In accordance with our Organisational Change policy, managers must involve trades unions and employees as soon as any change has been proposed and this was done at an initial meeting following the board’s approval.
“A full consultation on the proposed changes is now underway. We are currently seeking input to and feedback from employees on the proposals which will be considered before any new model is finalised.
“We recognise that any change can be unsettling for employees and we are continuing to liaise with them and our trade unions throughout this process with the aim of securing a mutually agreeable outcome.”