Glasgow's Matt Kerr will now become the city council's executive member for personnel, a post vacated following the death earlier this month of fellow Labour councillor George Ryan.
Supporters say the move reflects Mr Kerr's standing within the trade union movement, comparing it with his predecessor's strong relationship with the unions.
But the SNP said the move was a thinly veiled sacking following a year which has seen the closure of day care centres, the controversial personalisation of care agenda accelerated and unions complaining of increased workloads.
He will be replaced by current licensing board chairman Malcolm Cunning, who in turn will see former MSP Bill Butler take on the licensing role. The council said its day care centre policies would not change.
East end councillor Frank Docherty has been axed from his post as vice chairman of the licensing board.
A spokesman for the council said: "This mini-reshuffle arose because of the sudden death of George Ryan. Matt Kerr has moved to personnel which he's ideally suited to because of his trade union background and the way he proved himself in the tough job at social work.
"Malcolm Cunning has been promoted to the top tier of councillors because he's widely respected and the excellent work he's done as chair of the licensing board."
SNP group leader Graeme Hendry said: "It's clear Matt Kerr has been sacked from social work after his mishandling of the introduction of personalisation and pushing through the closure of disabled day care centres, against the wishes of nearly all the carers."