‘DARK CLOUDS’ are gathering over Dungannon Council as job fears mount over the creation of the new super council.
According to the Department of the Environment, trade unions are currently in negotiation with the department to thrash out procedures regarding the new posts and future redundancies in the merged Dungannon, Cookstown and Magherafelt councils.
UUP Councillor Walter Cuddy said it was inevitable that there would be economies made, and that senior posts in Dungannon were most at risk.
“A dark cloud has been hanging over staff”, he said. “Morale is low, and everyone is looking at each other, wondering who is going to go?
“In theory, it should only be senior staff in managerial roles who are under threat, as we will still need the same front-line staff to provide the services.”
However, Councillor Cuddy offered a note of hope to staff whose jobs are under threat.
“Redundancies are expensive and time-consuming, and I believe that all surplus staff should be given new roles and responsibilities or retrained.
“I want to see the new supercouncil keeping the same amount of staff but providing a better, more comprehenshive service.
“I sympathise with staff who are unsure of their medium term future. It is disappointing that we are still at the early stages of the transition. We need to get the process up and moving.”
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has reassured local council staff that there will not be open competition for new posts in the super council other than the chief executive roles.
“I am aware of a growing concern that open competition will be extended to other posts within local government and as a result current employees are worried they could lose out.
“I can assure council staff that this is not the case. All other posts will be filled using procedures that are being negotiated and agreed by Trade Unions.
“I have taken this decision so that I can bring certainty to staff and reassure them that these procedures will also minimise the risk of redundancy,” commented the Minister.
“This reform programme is a major opportunity for local government in Northern Ireland. It will allow councils to be more efficient, more effective and more responsive to local needs – ultimately making local government work better for, and mean more to, our local citizens. It is the biggest shake up of local government for more than 40 years. However with change also comes uncertainty and I understand that for some staff, this is an issue they may be anxious about. I hope today’s clarification helps allay any concerns on this matter.”