General secretary David Evans has told Labour staff that “at this stage” there is “no need to consider for compulsory redundancies” as part of the restructuring planned for the party, LabourList can reveal.
Staff were told by email this afternoon that the voluntary severance scheme is now closed and all those party employees who volunteered for it are now being contacted with the outcomes of their applications.
“The VS scheme will result in a headcount reduction of 60,” Evans said. This is a lower figure than the one initially intended. It was estimated in July that at least 90 staff would need to be cut to make the necessary savings.
Evans today described the situation as “varied”, with some teams “not reducing either at all or sufficiently”, some “achieving the right level of reductions” and some “having to be reduced further than we would have wished”.
He said the party would now undertake a “financial review” concluding in October to “take stock of the position”, and acknowledged that the roles of some staffers are not in the new party structure.
His email to Labour staff read: “We have no plans to move to the new structure until we have concluded the financial review, though some teams will now restructure to enable people to leave on VS.
“I am pleased to say that at this stage we see no need to consider compulsory redundancies as part of this process.”
The general secretary said the “absolute top priority now” is ensuring that Labour has “a really successful annual conference where we cut through to the British public with our positive vision for the future”.
Labour’s decision means there is now less risk of a picket line at party conference, which a well-placed source had suggested earlier this week would be the case if compulsory redundancies were not taken off the table.
GMB regional organiser Vaughan West said: “It remains disappointing that hard-working Labour Party staff members were placed in this situation – but we are relieved that we have received assurances that compulsory redundancies will now not need to be considered.
“We will continue to support our members through the leaving process and those that remain will continue to be supported as the Party seeks to move to a new structure over the coming months.”
Party sources suggested that compulsory redundancies had not been taken off the table altogether, as some could still take place after the financial review mentioned by Evans in his email today.
Labour staff represented by GMB and Unite trade unions have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if the party decides to pursue any compulsory redundancies in its bid to save costs.
But LabourList has been told by the GMB’s Vaughan West that the unions received further reassurances in a meeting today that “make us confident there will be no compulsory redundancies as part of this process”.
Below is the full text of the email sent by David Evans to Labour staff today.
I am writing to confirm that the VS scheme has now closed. The SLT reviewed all applications this week and made decisions. We are in the process of speaking to every applicant and informing them of the decision.
The VS scheme will result in a headcount reduction of 60. This is substantial progress on meeting our financial pressures and as you know we have put in place a number of other financial controls to improve the position further. We will now carry out a financial review and take stock of the position. We expect that this review will be concluded next month in October.
We know that there are people whose role is not in the proposed new structure and we encourage them to join the Redeployment Pool (if they haven’t already done so) and to apply for vacancies. To confirm, people in the Redeployment Pool will have priority access to vacancies over other candidates, other than on promotion.
Managers are engaging with teams which we needed to reduce in size. The position is varied here with some teams not reducing either at all or sufficiently, some achieving the right level of reductions and some having to be reduced further than we would have wished to deliver savings.
We have no plans to move to the new structure until we have concluded the financial review, though some teams will now restructure to enable people to leave on VS. I am pleased to say that at this stage we see no need to consider compulsory redundancies as part of this process.
A priority for this month is to give a good and heartfelt goodbye to colleagues who will be leaving us, thank them for their service to the party and wish them the very best for the future.
The absolute top priority now is to ensure that we have a really successful Annual Conference where we cut through to the British public with our positive vision for the future.
I recognise that this has been a tough few weeks for many of us and I would like to thank all of you for supporting colleagues and for continuing to focus on our important work.
We all need to rally round and ensure that Conference is a great success. I know that I can rely on you to do that.