Notes from recent Council committees: pomp and stress

There are a lot of committees with a lot of reports and too little time in the day, but over the next few months we hope to bring you small notes on points of interest. Join the discussion on Twitter @unitececbranch.

The next big committee is Full Council on 18 February for the budget meeting.

Finance and Resources Committee—21 January

Read the papers from the Finance and Resources Committee from 21 January for the full story.

We’ve no money… apart from what we’re saving for ceremonies and dignitaries

The Lord Provost’s annual £60k budget for civic hospitality hasn’t been spent this year, as there obviously hasn’t been the chance. The report proposed carry forward £30K for civic hospitality next year.

The Greens tabled a great amendment that would have put these funds into the general spending to help cover the costs of vital services.

Unfortunately, this was not carried. While it was a small amount, it was interesting to note there are pockets of money that could be use for priorities—but aren’t. This sort of event is deemed more important.

Stress and absence

We were appalled at the the continued increase in the proportion of long-term absence caused by stress and mental health reasons—up to 47%, which is an increase in over 10 percentage points in 18 months.

More and more Council workers are suffering from stress. The Council’s recent wellbeing newsletter recommended staff take a ‘forest bath’, visit a gallery online or take a ‘self-compassion break’. In some areas we know it’s not self-compassion, but lack of compassion from management that’s the problem!

The focus on soft wellbeing measure ignores the harsh realities of underpaid, overworked staff working under demanding conditions in a perpetual cycle of organisational reviews with the looming fear of job cuts. Many wellbeing measures are window dressing—a show of addressing stress, rather than measures that address the causes of stress.

Resources put into the wellbeing strategy to recommend books to harassed workers could be better spent on staffing to eleviate areas under pressure and training managers in Council policies to create workplaces free of bullying in which staff can raise concerns in a meaningful way—no amount of artwork on a computer screen will give solace to a member of staff being bullied or fearing for their wellbeing and livelihood.

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