Inez Teece, Branch Secretary has submitted a Branch response to the consultation on proposed changes to the ICT service in schools, based on information received from members.
She told the council that the matching process has been the predominant issue raised. "Members have been concerned that it is very difficult to respond when they do not know where they stand in the new structure and how it will affect them personally," said Inez.
"With the errors in the documentation and perceived difficulties in giving unnamed responses, members are feeling that they are detached from the process and feel they are being done to rather than with.
"The matching process has been explained but with differing grades for some existing and new posts, members are finding it impossible to know where their future stands and some are discovering that they have been ‘underpaid’ next to colleagues on the same job description doing the same duties, causing anxiety, concern and tensions between colleagues," added Inez.
She added that the introduction of a shift system and the removal of flexible working has been a concern. "Members see flexible working as an essential part of the job allowing them the ability to adapt to the changing needs of the service whilst allowing them a reasonable work-life balance. To introduce set shifts, members believe that this will provide no advantages but will alienate many staff and leave many staff unable to continue to work, as outside responsibilities, will not allow them to work shifts.
"This could mean the loss of a great deal of experience but will also mean the loss of goodwill and the ability within the team."
Inez warned that many staff do not want to work shifts, and members feel that this is discrimination when other similar support services do not have to work shifts and are encouraged to work flexibly.
"Current posts tend to be flexible in some areas allowing the movement between roles depending on the demand. This enables the service to meet the demand and members believe that rigid inflexible roles will create difficulties in covering absences and leave the team rigid and inflexible ultimately restricting the quality of the service for the customer."
"The size and remits of the teams seems to be flawed, with a vast discrepancy between the sizes of teams and management roles, although graded the same. Members are concerned that this will cause difficulties and that the teams need to be balanced."
Inez added that the development side of the new structure appears to be less restrictive, with no rota and the freedom to develop. "This will mean that more people will select the developmental role and could leave the operational side without the skills and enthusiasm. There is a fear that operational will have 80% of the work but only 50% of the staff leading to stress over work and increased absences."
Training issues for the new posts and roles seem to have been omitted. "It is clear that a great deal of training will be needed, at least for some people, yet there is no mention of how and when this will be carried out and who is to support teams during the process," said Inez.
Issues over the titles of roles have been highlighted. Customer support seems to have no locus in the ICT field and members feel the use of the title assistant is demeaning and under values many years of their work and skills.
The respondents have asked how the service will react to the changes within ICT and the service they receive. Have all services been briefed and their expectations adjusted accordingly?
The issue of the leadership has been raised, without a permanent head, a leader of the service, how can the service move forward as one, when management could change?
Members have raised why some posts are politically restricted. They want the freedom to carry out their role and have another life outside work.
The key issue to state is that all respondents have stated that staff morale is at an all time low and feel that people are just fed up and leaving. This process is doing nothing to raise morale.