COUNCIL staff in Monmouthshire have been told there are to be “no opt-outs” for re-deployment to critical areas, as the authority prepares for its biggest re-organisation in 80 years.

The county council’s chief executive, Paul Matthews, says the “vast majority” of staff “can’t wait to be involved” – but he said there have been a few who have been ‘reluctant’ to temporarily change roles in the coronavirus crisis.

In an email to all staff and councillors, seen by the Argus, Mr Matthews says the next week “will see us through the most radical deconstruction and re-assembly of a public service organisation in 80 years.”

“Everything has changed,” he said.


“Things that were inconceivable are now being routinely done.”

Mr Matthews said he has heard that “one or two have been reluctant to help out on our community meal service” – and he says “this isn’t on.”

Some workers who the council want to move to its refuse teams “aren’t necessarily happy about working the Bank Holiday weekend,” Mr Matthews says in the email.

“The refuse crews always work Bank Holidays and I’d expect you to work with them,” he said. “Frankly, what else are you going to be doing anyway? No-one is going on holiday at the moment.”

He said the council has to have “one set of rules for everyone” amid the crisis.

“If you are healthy and we want to re-deploy you then re-deploy you we will,” Mr Matthews adds.

“I know the vast majority can’t wait to be involved but there are no opt-outs.”

He adds “the overwhelming majority are going above and beyond and you are amazing.”

Unison, which represents council staff across the UK, says “any redeployment of staff must first be done on a voluntary basis.”

But Rosie Lewis, UNISON Cymru Wales regional organiser, said it also supports Monmouthshire’s approach.

“We have been working closely with Monmouthshire Council to discuss how this is implemented and to ensure that any redeployment falls within an individual’s skill set, that they have training where needed and have the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) where required,” Ms Lewis said.

“We are confident that the approach and decisions being made are to enable vital services to continue and support that wherever we can.”

GMB’s National Officer, Karen Leonard, said any role changes “should be a reasonable alternative that matches the skill set and knowledge as closely as possible.”


“These are skilled roles which demand a specific set of talents,” she said.

“You can’t just thrust people around willy-nilly as though all local government jobs are interchangeable.”

Mr Matthews said he is “asking everyone to do their bit” to support everyone, “particularly the most vulnerable, isolated and lonely people who need our care and support.”

“This is a call for ‘all hands on deck’ – people are not being asked to do anything that they are not equipped to do – support and training will be provided to upskill people into their new roles,” he added.