Price hike confirmed as jobs put at risk

November 2018 - Hard on the heels of confirming that boaters will see their prompt payment discount halved from next April and that it is going ahead with hikes in licence fees the following year, including charging more for boats wider than seven feet, Canal & River Trust has also announced that 200 staff are now formally at risk of redundancy in the run-up to Christmas, reports Peter Underwood

Jon Horsfall, head of customer service support at Canal & River Trust, claimed licence fee hikes were vital as it: “ helps ensure that we can carry out the vast amount of work needed to keep the waterways available to boaters.”

Meanwhile C&RT Chief Executive Richard Parry was announcing that 200 jobs needed to be ‘re-designed’ as part of the Trusts move from 10 to six regions and the switch from being navigation centred to being focused on general ‘wellbeing’.

Many of those at risk work with volunteers, including all Operations and Construction Supervisors, Volunteer Development Co-ordinators, and Development & Engagement Managers, and Parry attempted to reassure the volunteer workforce in an email.

He said: “I know that many of you will work closely with some of those who are affected, and I stress that this doesn’t mean we are removing these posts entirely; rather we are re-designing roles to provide what the Trust needs for the future under our new Regional structure. All those placed at risk will be asked to advise us of their aspirations and preferred outcomes, and we will do all we can to ensure that the process is managed sympathetically and fairly.

“Thank you for volunteering for the Trust; we do not expect there to be any impact on your work with the Trust during this period of change.”

The immediate response from one volunteer, Peter Macfarlane, was: “With immediate effect I will no longer be volunteering for the Trust.

“With the whole of the network falling into disrepair you decide to cut more staff. You would do more good culling the directors /trustees who are only there for a jolly up without a care for the canal system.”

Parry told the workforce, in another email: “As you know, the Trust has been repositioning as a charity for the Waterways and Wellbeing, with a new structure that has seen us move from ten waterways to six larger regions, each headed by a Regional Director, with some activities previously managed centrally now devolved to these Regional teams, and a reduction in senior manager numbers overall.

“The proposed new structure has resulted in some colleagues from Operations, Fundraising, and Direct Services, a group of approximately 200 colleagues overall, being placed “at risk”.

“I should stress that this doesn’t mean we are removing these 200 posts, rather we are re-designing roles to meet what the Trust needs for the future. Please also note that Operative roles are not affected.”

C&RT has a legal obligation to enter into a collective consultation with its trade unions, Unite and Unison, which starts on 15 November and continues until mid-January 2019.”

Parry claims: “It is our firm hope and aspiration that any job losses will be voluntary, and we will be working with our trade union colleagues to manage the process in the most sensible and least disruptive way.”

To be fair at least he didn’t wish his workforce a Happy Christmas.

Photos: (1st) Richard Parry, (2nd) Jon Horsfall.

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