Fears council move will see its staff with nowhere to sit
COUNCIL staff will be left deskless during a planned relocation, their union fears.
An estimated 900 people – about half of Swindon Council’s workforce – are to be relocated to a town centre civic campus in a £500,000-plus efficiency-boosting project.
But UNISON says the move will mean there are more staff than there are spaces for them to work in, although council leader Rod Bluh doesn’t foresee any significant problems.
The local authority’s cabinet has approved plans including the closure of Sanford House and the demolition of some huts and outdated office space. The decision was deferred earlier this year to allow consultation with the union.
UNISON branch secretary Bob Cretchley said most of the union’s points had been or would be addressed, but insisted there could still be situations in which staff had nowhere to work.
He added: “One of our concerns, and I think that still stands, is potentially if everybody turns up for work at the same time, because the situation we have now is you don’t have your own desk or anything. You come in, grab a desk and a PC, and you move from one to another, whatever is available.
“There’s not enough to go around for every member of staff. So if every single member of staff turns up to work, there would be problems. The council says that’s not going to happen but we’re still concerned.
“If people come into work and spend hours to find somewhere to work that’s not efficient.”
Council leader Rod Bluh said: “It’s about using the space we have to the maximum benefit and maximum efficiency. We know at any one time, a percentage of desks are vacant.
“Clearly, through hot-desking, a percentage of these desks can be used by more than one person and therefore the important thing is to try and make sure we meet the need for the desks with the people needing them at any given time.
“I don’t think there will be any substantial problems. If there’s any issues in implementation then they will be sorted in the normal way.”
The project is estimated to cost £521,000, but the council says it could save £93,000 annually, including £50,000 through consolidating business administration support functions.
The council also says the relocation stems from the Stronger Together reorganisation, meaning there is more empty space due to staff cuts, and that the location of many remaining staff no longer reflects their new team structure or the colleagues with whom they are now working.
The relocation, planned to start on Friday and end in February, will mean nearly all council staff will be at the main civic campus, off Euclid Street. The affected staff are currently at Wat Tyler House, Sanford House and the Civic Annex.