A protest was held outside Derry City Council’s Strand Road offices yesterday lunchtime amid fears that more than 30 staff could find themselves redundant due to an ongoing restructuring programme implemented by Council bosses.
According to public service union NIPSA, the restructuring affects staff including 15 senior managers, the staff at St. Columb’s Park Leisure Centre - which is due to close shortly to facilitate a rebuild - and staff at the city’s Tower Museum and Guildhall.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday Branch Secretary Paddy Casey claimed morale within Council staff was “at an all time low”.
“People have been put at risk of redundancy and told that they will have to reapply for their jobs when they become available.
“In some cases there are people who have had over 30 years unbroken service who are having to compete to keep their jobs.
“In other cases the skills set required has changed - so that staff no longer meet the criteria to do the jobs they have already been carrying out.
“Staff have been told they may be redeployed elsewhere - but we are looking at a stituation where, for example, someone who has been working as a guide at the Tower Museum could be reallocated to a menial task elsewhere and will be forced to watch someone else do the job they love,” he claimed.
Mr Casey said he was calling on elected representatives to stand up for local employees, who he said, “feel they are being battered into submission”.
Alan Law of NIPSA added: “NIPSA is calling for Council to revisit their plans and ensure every effort is made to retain experienced and dedicated staff.”
A spokesperson for Derry City Council explained that Council is currently developing options to realign internal services, including Museums, created by £10m refurbishment of the Guildhall. “The outcome is to create an integrated approach to visitor and operational services at the Guildhall and Heritage & Museum Services.
“Council is confident this realignment will ultimately generate a net gain in jobs, further training opportunities and enhanced development opportunities for staff. Council remains fully committed to working closely with staff and unions through this change process.”