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Policy and the relocation of the CSA

Response to Scottish Parliament Finance Committee investigation into the Scottish Executive Relocation Policy and the relocation of the CSA

December 2003

Executive summary

UNISON Scotland is pleased to be able to respond to the Finance Committee's request for views on the relocation of the CSA.

  • UNISON Scotland is pleased that the Finance Committee is investigating issues relating to the Scottish Executive's Relocation Policy.
  • Whilst UNISON Scotland is largely supportive of the Executive's Relocation Policy, we do however have some concerns over the implementation of this policy.
  • UNISON believes that, to date the overwhelming majority of business case papers presented to the Executive recommending relocation have lacked a clear methodology. We are also concerned that these papers have also succinctly failed to present clear evidence-based research to substantiate the conclusions reached in favour of relocation.
  • UNISON is also concerned that the human aspects of relocation have failed to be taken into proper consideration by those preparing the business case papers recommending relocation. In many of the larger relocation projects the Executive has largely ignored the human costs.
  • Relocation has left many employees with the stark choice of either resigning their positions or being forced to move away from families and friends, and taking their children away from schools, disrupting their education.
  • UNISON also believes that the short time-scales placed upon NHS employers to prepare evidence-based papers are totally unacceptable. These short time-scales effectively preclude effective partnership working and consultation with trade unions.
  • UNISON has already voiced its concern over the NHS National Shared Services Review, which we believe could lead to a number of relocation issues for UNISON members across Scotland.
  • We believe strongly that it is important for UNISON to engage with the Scottish Executive now to ensure that the rights of our members are recognised and an agreed process can be put in place to take forward the Relocation Policy in a more effective way.
  • UNISON Scotland also has concerns on the wider issue of relocation and the centralisation of shared services in the NHS, the Police Service and the Fire and Rescue Services. We are opposed to the centralisation of shared services. These will, in most cases, require major organisational change, with new sites, new systems, and significant relocation and redundancy of staff.
  • UNISON Scotland believes that on the issue of re-deployment it is just not feasible for the staff in the current locations, who are mainly low-paid, female workers, to up-root families and move to new centres. We believe that in reality this situation will mean that many current members of staff will be faced with either a redeployment or redundancy situation.
  • UNISON Scotland is also concerned that staff involved in delivering shared services will be under considerable pressure to meet customer expectations, in most cases with no additional resources. Our concern is that this will lead to stress issues and have an overall negative impact on staff morale.


1. Whether you had any consultation with the Scottish Executive or the Common Services Agency on the locations and criteria for selecting the final location prior to relocation.

The Scottish Executive failed to consult with UNISON on the locations and criteria for selecting the final location prior to relocation. In addition, UNISON was not made aware of the criteria the Scottish Executive Capital Investment Group applied to make their decisions of recommendation to Ministers.

Unlike the Scottish Executive, the CSA was able to engage in partnership with UNISON throughout the relocation process and they have been made fully aware of our concerns with the process throughout the last 2 years. Over the period of the review the CSA also entered into a formal consultation process with UNISON, however due to the time-scales laid down by the Scottish Executive and the end of lease dates etc for property this was a greatly reduced period of time and was over location only.

UNISON also received a great deal of information, including financial costs, from the CSA and we were pleased to see the CSA take the view that they wished to be open with staff and their representatives regarding important details of relocation. However, at this time there still remains serious issues and concerns that UNISON has raised in relation to members Expenses, additional time, parking, child care costs etc.


2. What information you received on the reasons for the final location choice

UNISON Healthcare Branch received the following information from the CSA regarding the reasons for the relocation choice. Whilst recognising there were staff issues CSA management felt that these could be overcome.

  • Lease costs increasing on current building
  • New building more flexible
  • Improved location for customers
  • New building will enable new ways of working
  • Better for business

The Scottish Executive has failed to furnish UNISON with any explanations for the decision to relocate and the choice of relocation.


3. Whether you have received any feedback from staff on their experiences of relocation following their relocation, and if so, what was the feedback?

Until the CSA relocates to its new premises in May/June 2004 we will be unable to comment on the experiences of staff.

However, UNISON is constantly receiving feedback from members regarding the overall relocation process and in this regard, staff have voiced their dismay that the process to date has concentrated on issues surrounding property and largely ignored the human aspects of relocation, which more directly impinge on staff.

Whilst UNISON is supportive of the overall aims of the Executive's Relocation Policy, we have major concerns over the way in which this policy is currently being implemented and its effect on staff. As regards the relocation of the CSA to a newly constructed building on the outskirts of the city UNISON members have voiced their concern over added work time, expenses, child-care arrangements and work/life balance issues

UNISON members have also voiced their dissatisfaction that the CSA had to wait over a year for a decision to be made on relocation and many commented that this had a detrimental effect on staff morale. The uncertainty over whether the review process would recommend relocation coupled with the added uncertainty over likely regions of relocation became a major concern for many members of staff.

Whilst UNISON Scotland has tried to discuss a phased approach to the CSA relocation in an attempt to secure current staff we are not confident that this will happen. Many of the current staff will be faced with either a redeployment or redundancy situation. It is worth noting that whilst redeployment is being advised as a resolution by the Scottish Executive the jobs are just not available to allow this number of staff to be re-deployed elsewhere within the NHS. We are also being advised that the posts are still available therefore there is no redundancy situation, obviously UNISON does not agree with this interpretation.


4. Whether you are aware of any unexpected issues that arose following relocation such as premises suitability or additional costs, which were not anticipated by the original location reports and if so, what those issues and costs were

As noted above, UNISON will not be in a position to answer this question until relocation is completed in June 2004. However, it should be noted that following the Outlined Business Case, the new property in Edinburgh was found to be too small as the CSA had miscalculated their staff numbers (short by over 100). They then had to take out leases on 2 additional suites of the new building at an additional cost of over £4.5million pounds over 15 years. If CSA can miss this out at this stage, we do expect additional issues and increased cost following the relocations to 4 new buildings

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For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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