Following the death of Fraser Cowie, we have had further sad news over the past week with the loss of another valued colleague.
Ethel Stewart passed away at the end of last month after a short illness, having served for more than 10 years as an important member of the Museums and Galleries team.
Ethel was a sociable, popular and knowledgeable employee who was committed to her role as a Museum Liaison Officer and to the Council and Aberdeen as a whole. She not only touched the lives of her colleagues, but all of the visitors who benefited from her passion for the city’s museums.
I know Ethel’s loss has been felt deeply by everyone who worked with her and I share in the heartfelt tributes that have been made as well as sending my condolences on behalf of the Council to colleagues, family and friends.
Earlier this month every employee of the Council received a letter confirming their place in the structure as part of the transition to the Target Operating Model (TOM).
Further to the letter that I issued, the next phase in the move towards the TOM relates to the reduction in posts agreed by the Strategic Transformation Committee in February and in line with the areas for change identified by Directors, Chief Officers and Managers. As communicated previously, the political priority of the Administration is to avoid compulsory redundancies and that underpins the approach to the transition.
Those who may be impacted by this workforce change have been invited to meetings to notify them of the proposals and will receive an explanation of the consultation process with the Trade Unions and individual staff, who will have the opportunity to consider the rationale and make their own representations.
The Union consultations will run from 17-30 April and individual consultations over the first two weeks of May. Taking into account the responses, a formal decision will then be made on each of the affected posts.
Anyone who is displaced from their current post will be assisted in identifying opportunities for redeployment to an alternative role in which existing skills and knowledge can be utilised or in exploring retraining options.
This is a difficult time not only for those affected directly but also for colleagues and Managers. I have made clear my commitment to managing this process in a sensitive, compassionate and respectful manner and appreciate the support of everyone in the Council in ensuring that.
Members of staff being consulted with in relation to post reductions are being given details of the next steps as well as the support on offer to them during meetings taking place today and through the course of the week. There will understandably be many questions arising as well as concerns and it is vital that colleagues affected have access to information and advice.
The change we are going through as an organisation is not easy – but it is essential. As we work towards the aim of building a leaner Council which is more efficient in the way it meets the needs of those it serves and realises our ambitions for the city as a whole, I am very mindful of the duty of care we have to all employees.
Minimising the potential impact on individual members of staff is my priority and this shared by Directors and Chief Officers.
It is with great sadness that I share the news of the death of a respected and valued colleague.
Fraser Cowie, Head Teacher at Westpark School, passed away on Monday. On behalf of all at Aberdeen City Council, my condolences go to Fraser’s family, colleagues and all who knew him through his role at the school and all those it serves.
Those who worked closely with Fraser speak of a lovely, kind and genuine man who was dedicated to his school, its pupils and staff.
He will be greatly missed by the young people he was such a positive influence on as well as colleagues and the wider community, having spent decades working in the Northfield area.
Such sad news is always felt throughout the Council and I pay tribute to the contribution Fraser made to education in the city over the course of service spanning 28 years.
I must take the opportunity to pass on Easter wishes to all of our staff and once again express my thanks to the many teams who have been called into action to deal with the worst winter has thrown at us.
The season may be officially behind us now, but looking at the forecast for sleet and snow this week I know we’re still primed and ready to respond if needed over the weeks ahead.
Of course the hard work continues in spring and summer in so many different ways, not least as our greenspaces are in full bloom and colour sweeps the city.
From the skilled and dedicated teams tending to our parks, gardens and other award winning displays to the waste and recycling team catering for the spike in collections and many, many more there’s a busy schedule. In the schools we have the hectic final term looming and over the spring and summer months a host of services will have peak periods.
That sums up the life of a Council – there’s no down time, with business as usual carrying on around the clock throughout the year.
With that in mind, can I thank all those who were on duty over the holiday weekend to ensure vital services continued – those efforts are appreciated. For those who are taking the opportunity for leave over the school holidays, I hope you have a fantastic break.