Concern over risk to council jobs

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Concern has been expressed that jobs at Lisburn City Council could be at risk as a result of the amalgamation with Castlereagh Borough Council next year.

Letters have been sent to staff at the Council advising them that their job could be at risk as a result of the duplication of roles in the two council areas.

However, a spokesperson for Lisburn City Council has said that steps have been taken to mitigate the impact of the amalgamation on staff and that a ‘vacancy control’ procedure was put in place in 2012.

“The new Council will incorporate the staff of both the existing Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Councils, less a number of staff who will be transferring to Belfast City Council to provide services for the geographical areas transferring from Lisburn and Castlereagh to Belfast,” she said.

“In order to protect staff and reduce the potential ‘pool’ of surplus staff, a Vacancy Control procedure has been in place since October 2012 for all merging councils in Northern Ireland. Within Lisburn City Council the ‘At Risk’ letters have, and are, being backed up by an extensive communications exercise, including ‘question and answer’ sessions for staff. The primary rationale for the introduction of the vacancy control system is in order to safeguard the employment of existing council staff.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Alexander Redpath said his Party had expressed concern about the reduction in the number of councils in Northern Ireland and the impact on staff.

“All current employees in local government must have employment protection by way of ‘Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006’ (TUPE),” said Mr Redpath.

“The regulations’ main aims are to ensure that, in connection with the transfer, employment is protected, employees are not dismissed, employees’ most important terms and conditions of contracts are not worsened and affected employees are informed and consulted through representatives.

“These obligations of protection are placed on the transferring companies both before, during and after the transfer.

“We have heard for some time about the saving that the reform of local government will bring about, the Ulster Unionist Party has consistently warned that these projected savings didn’t have any explanation and could not infringe on the rights of the current local government employees. This is one of the reasons the Ulster Unionist Party voted against the legislation.”