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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of an extraordinary meeting held on 3rd October, 2011.

 

 

Present:  Councillor J.F. Fraser (Chairman); Councillor E.T. Williams (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. P. Drake, K. Hatton, G. John, Mrs. K.A. Kemp, Mrs. A.J. Moore, N. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston, A.C. Williams and Miss. S.J.C. Williams.

 

Also present:  Councillors Mrs. J.E. Charles, G.C. Kemp and Mrs. M. Randall.

 

 

464     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. A.J. Moore and N. Moore in respect of the following matter in that a relative worked for the Authority.  Both Councillors vacated the room during its consideration.

 

 

465     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

466     JOB EVALUATION / EQUAL PAY (DFICTP) (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPH 15) -

 

Councillor Miss. S.J.C. Williams had submitted a call-in in respect of Cabinet Min. C1445 in which she had, whilst accepting the Cabinet decisions in principle, asked that the Scrutiny Committee consider the possible employee relation implications in pursuing implementation of those decisions within the current financial year and receive appropriate assurances in relation to the delivery of the implementation.  In accordance with her request, the Head of Human Resources was present at the meeting.

 

In response to the above the Head of Human Resources gave a comprehensive presentation in which he

 

·     reminded Members of why the Job Evaluation / Equal Pay exercise had been undertaken

·     outlined the steps taken between the approval of the Draft Agreement in February and the marginal 'no' vote in the ballot which had resulted in a return to the consultation process

·     the concerns of the Trade Unions which had included the number of adversely affected staff (18%), weekend working allowances and insufficient funding being made available to fund the scheme (£5m.)

·     the work programme undertaken since that 'no' vote which had included a continuous sequence of meetings, a review of particular groups / injustices and a review of unsocial hours issues. The work programme had been undertaken in partnership with the Trade Unions and the Head of Human Resources assured Members that the working relationship had been productive. 

·     On 8th September the Trade Unions had been informed that revisions were proposed and the following improvements to the proposals were approved by Cabinet on 21st September, the overall implications of which meant a 15% reduction in the number of those adversely affected, the number of “gainers” rising to 45%, and costs increased to approximately £5.6m:

      (i)    a better assimilation for lower paid staff

      (ii)    changes to the unsocial working matrix

      (iii)   change to the pay line between Grade B and C

      (iv)   review clause arrangements which included a commitment to review all adversely affected staff, up-front funding of £100k. to help run and deal with the outcome of those reviews and the bringing forward of elements of that review

      (v)    changed assimilation date to 1st March, 2012

      (vi)   other changes, specifically improvements to standby, improvements to night working payments, improved communication strategy and the release of job evaluation factor levels.

 

Attention then focussed on the way forward, the Head of Service detailing the potential implications of each of the following 3 options as summarised below:

 

·     delay and reconsideration – Members accepted that there was now a need to make progress

·     to hold out for a collective agreement which would ensure the automatic incorporation of the new terms, protecting both employee relations and Council services, and represent a significant achievement if agreed but pose significant risks if agreement were not to be reached.  Members were informed that the Trade Unions had been asked to provide assurances as to whether they would support and recommend the revised proposals in a ballot of their members by 5th October.  Members were made aware of the timetable for implementation of the collective agreement.

·     direct implementation, the process starting with individual offers being made to employees and the opportunity for each to “vote” and which gave certainty in terms of outcomes and timescales.  The Head of Service drew attention, however, to certain risks inherent in that approach including potentially damaging trade union relations, stressing the need for such an approach being carefully managed.  As above, Members were made aware of the timetable for direct implementation.

 

The Head of Service then ended his presentation by stressing that the Council had taken the necessary steps to evidence the business case for change and the efforts made to achieve collective and / or individual agreement, and seek to avoid the need for an approach of dismissal / re-engagement and ultimately safeguard service provision.  He concluded, in brief, by stating that the challenge to be faced was such that inactivity was not an option, outlining the rewards of implementation to employees and managers alike.

 

Councillor Miss Williams indicated that it was pleasing that all employees would be given the opportunity to express a view should the option chosen be that of direct implementation and welcomed the fact that an additional £100k. had been allocated.  In response to her query as to the support to be offered to employees, the Head of Service confirmed the arrangements in place, adding, inter alia, that appeals would be prioritised and that a review would be undertaken of all employees adversely affected commencing with those categorised as clerical and administrative.  As regards the sufficiency of resources within H.R. to deal with the anticipated increase in workload, the Head of Service indicated that the processes had been well managed to date.  He emphasised that there was a heavy reliance on line managers to convey the necessary information to their staff and, to that end, further briefings would be held to ensure all managers were aware of their responsibilities in this matter.  Briefings had also commenced for head teachers and governors in respect of implementation in schools.  He commented that only 12% of staff had been adversely affected in schools and that a working group had been established to look at issues pertaining to senior administrative staff.  Further briefings would also be held prior to the Council meeting on 19th October to keep Members fully apprised.  In addition, the Head of Service confirmed that the trade unions were satisfied with the Council’s response as regards their concerns in respect of the communication strategy. 

 

After further consideration of the above and related matters, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the decisions of Cabinet as contained in Minute No. C1445 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee record its thanks to the Head of Human Resources for his presentation and his clarification of the current position.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To make progress.

 

(2)       To record the appreciation of the Committee.

 

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