The local Unison branch argues that the council is preparing for unitary status and is acting prematurely in introducing radical changes before the DoE has even approved a new strucutre for the Humberside area. It accuses the council of failing to consult properly and is also unhappy the council has not involved Unison branches in the county which represent staff who are also likely to be affected if Hull does take over county staff and functions.
'With the final form of local government reorganisation still undecided Unison feels strongly that the city council's actions are premature and will act against the interests of many local authority employees who cannot make informed decisions about their future in such a climate of uncertainity', said Hull District Branch Secretary Gavin Arnold.
Hull Chief Executive Darryl Stephenson said the council's current organisational structure is 20 years old and is no longer suitable to cope with issues such as white collar compulsory competitive tendering and a new city regeneration strategy.
Even though councils facing reorganisation do not have to implement white collar CCT until 18 months after reorganisation they must prepare in advance, said Mr Stephenson. 'Any new council would not thank us for closing our minds to the future. Responsible managers look ahead'.
The council proposes to create a new central services department which would bring together the contractor sides of the legal, information technology, finance and personnel services. The corporate core of the town clerk, directors of finance, human resources and law and administration would form the client side.
The council is advertising nationally for new directors of finance and central services. It has decided initially to restrict recruitment for the posts of directors of human resources and law and administration to applicants from the Humberside councils. All four posts will be permanent positions. The council has taken into account Staff Commission advice on appointments in advance of reorganisation and the advisory body has approved its plans, said Mr Stephenson.
The Staff Commission has advised councils to use, where possible, temporary appointments, short term contracts or consultants to fill vacancies which arise before shadow authorities are in place. 'Members have taken the view that they were not going to get the right commitment from staff or the right calibre of staff by using short term contracts and consultants', said Mr Stephenson.
Unison says anyone appointed to the new structure will face a campaign of non co-operation from union members in the city.