Review of Aberdeenshire janitorial staff could lead to cuts

Aberdeenshire Council is undertaking a review of its janitorial staff which could see working hours slashed in areas including Ellon and Fraserburgh.
The review affects 124 employees across Aberdeenshire.The review affects 124 employees across Aberdeenshire.
The review affects 124 employees across Aberdeenshire.

A letter was sent to staff making them aware of the proposal.

In it, the council’s education and children’s services team said it had “considered all posts and responsibilities” but said change was needed to “improve the efficiency” of the service.

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Going forward, the local authority wants to have two full-time group janitors at each of its 15 clusters with a secondary school or community campus.

The remaining staff will be allocated to areas based on the total floor area of buildings, rather than pupil rolls.

One full-time janitor will be in place at Banff Academy to maintain the grounds.

But, ground work elsewhere will be covered by the council’s wider landscape services team.

The review affects 124 employees across Aberdeenshire.

It comes as the council prepares to plug a £67 million black hole and set its budget for the year ahead.

This is the council’s first janitorial review in more than a decade. It argues the changes will remove “anomalies” in the allocation of its janitors.

However, it will result in staff working hours being cut in some areas, while it will increase in others.

At the moment, janitors in the Fraserburgh cluster work a combined 299 hours per week to keep schools tidy and in full working order.

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However, the proposal could see this reduced to 193 resulting in a loss of 106 hours.

Cuts are also expected in Ellon (-89), Inverurie (-86) and Stonehaven (-79).

But Turriff is set to gain 33 additional janitorial hours while Alford will benefit from 28.

At the moment, group janitors work within a certain school on a fixed basis with many contracted to specific days and times.

But this is set to change too. Under the new plan, staff could be expected to carry out regular and essential tasks across their cluster.

Aberdeenshire Council says it will bring in new and improved technology to keep on top of the task-driven service.

Staff consultations will run until February 25 to allow affected employees to comment on the proposed changes.

Feedback from this will be taken onboard by education staff and the council’s human resources team.

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A report will then go before education bosses on whether the proposal should move forward or if any amendments need to be made.

If all goes to plan, Aberdeenshire Council is hoping to move forward with the changes at the beginning of March.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman confirmed the review was underway.

He said: “A staff consultation is currently running into a review on janitorial allocations to schools and school clusters across Aberdeenshire.

“The council’s aim is to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of janitorial resources – for example, allocating resources based on the gross internal floor area of school buildings, rather than pupil numbers.

“A review has not been carried out for the past 12 years and so proposals seek to remove current inequities which have been created over the past decade.”