Think Five: surviving a restructure – UNISON’s top tips

If your service or job is facing a restructure you need to know how to survive the changes.

To help us help you as best we can, make sure you do the following five actions as soon as you hear the slightest hint of change:

  1. Come to us first: only use the UNISON channels for feedback. This is so we can amalgamate all the feedback from union members into a single response. We can form a stronger argument in our collective response by combining your points with others. It helps demonstrate the strength of feeling of all our members in a single report.
  2. Don’t leave it too late: some members have raised important issues with us after critical deadlines have passed. We are less likely to be successful if we raise concerns retrospectively, so it’s important you tell us well before any formal consultation deadlines. We understand the process for making staffing changes very well, but we don’t know your service as well as you. For us to make sure your professional views count, tell us in plenty of time.
  3. Don’t presume proposals are a done deal: the union has achieved many and significant compromises in several, major restructure negotiations. Proposals can and should change: we have evidence to prove this. Don’t think it’s not worth saying anything because proposals are a ‘done deal’. They are not!
  4. Nominate a UNISON rep (if you do not already have one): a good way to gather feedback from your team or service is to nominate a lead UNISON contact or ‘rep’ who can collate your information and discuss it with us collectively. A rep forms the link between you and the Branch office. You should not wait until there is organisational change to do this as a UNISON rep in your workplace will improve your working conditions. The slightest hint of change should prompt you to elect one.  Examples of feedback you could send to your rep would be: the impact of changes on disabled colleagues; how a change in team location impacts on travel arrangements; or reasons explaining why you think proposals will simply not work in practice.
  5. Think about the impact on the whole service, not just your personal circumstances: what’s relevant to you will be relevant to others. Challenge proposals by putting better ones forward for the benefit of the whole service: your views are more likely to be listened to if you suggest well-researched alternatives. We will, of course, represent your individual concerns too.

In our experience of restructures, self-selected, non-union staff groups have little or no influence in the final outcome. UNISON is ‘recognised’ by all our large employers, meaning we must be consulted and negotiated with.  The employer must demonstrate they have consulted meaningfully with us. We have many examples where the union has recommended significant changes to a proposal which have then formed part of the final plan.

So before any restructure, think about the five actions above. It will save time, reduce stress and make sure your views are fully considered.