JOINT CONSULTATIVE FORUM
Minutes of a meeting held on 23rd February, 2015.
Present: Councillor G. Roberts (Chairman); Councillors K. Hatton, F.T. Johnson, A.G. Powell, Mrs. A.J. Preston and E. Williams.
Representatives of the Trade Unions: Ms. G. Southby (UNISON), Mr. G. Pappas (UNISON), Mr. D. Dimmick (NASUWT), Mr. R. Hughes (UNISON), Mr. C. Jordan (GMB), Mr. G. Moseley (UNISON), Ms. C. Mason (UNISON) and Mr. P. Carter (UNISON).
(a) Apologies for Absence –
These were received from Councillor Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, Mr. G. Beaudette, Mr. N. Patterson, Mr. N. Stokes and Mr. T. Davies.
(b) Minutes and Matters Arising –
AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 20th October, 2014 be accepted as an accurate record subject to third paragraph of Minute (f) reading as follows:
‘Leighton Andrews AM had been appointed Minister for Public Services with responsibility for the implementation of the proposals’.
In referring to the application of the New Agency Staff Contract, Mr. Pappas advised that this matter was ongoing.
Regarding the issues surrounding the cancelling the use of a meeting room just prior to the commencement of a meeting, Mr. Carter stated that the investigation report had been produced and he had requested a copy. He was aware that the report had recommended that he be provided with an apology which the Director confirmed had been given to Mr. Carter.
Mr. Carter referred to the review of the Library Service, in particular that he understood that Wenvoe Library had been awarded S106 monies. He had now been advised that the S106 monies could be used towards any library within the Vale of Glamorgan and sought clarification on the point.
It was agreed Mr. Carter would refer his enquiry to the Director of Development Services for a response.
(c) Reshaping Services Update –
The Head of Performance and Development provided a verbal update on the Reshaping Services Agenda, which represented a proactive response to austerity.
Cabinet, on 26th January 2015, had endorsed the programme plan, governance arrangements and service reviews proposed for Tranches 1 and 2 as the basis for consideration by Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources), Community Liaison Committee, Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee and the Local Service Board.
All Council services were to be reviewed and the report had highlighted Tranche 1 and 2. The first report was due in the Autumn.
Mr. Carter advised that the Trade Unions were aware of the report and his understanding was that staff working in the Alps Depot had been informed of a 20% reduction in resources.
The Head of Performance and Development advised that the reference to a 20% reduction had been included within the Appendix to the report to Cabinet as an indicative target. Savings would have to be made over the next few years and how they were achieved remained for consideration within the relevant Service.
Mr. Carter advised of his concerns regarding the forthcoming restructure of the Housing Division. The Housing Division would now also be subject to review under the second Tranche. Mr. Carter asked why the Housing Division could not be reviewed as part of the first Tranche.
Mr. Carter believed that it had taken some 18 months to get to the current stage of the restructure, and the morale of staff was low and that an additional review in such a short timeframe may increase staff concerns.
The Head of Performance and Development stated that it was known that there were savings to be made during this year and next. Directors were taking steps to implement the savings of which none were to come from the Reshaping Services Agenda.
Given the level of savings required, the Council did not have the luxury to wait and had little option other than to implement a proactive response over the suggested timeframe as set out within the above Agenda.
The Chairman advised that it should be realised that the Reshaping Services Agenda was not responsible for the savings. It was a response to the level of savings required by the Council.
It was essential that the issues were communicated to all staff through the mediums of Core Briefs and the Engagement Strategy.
(d) Expression of Interest Update –
The Head of Performance and Development provided a verbal update on the Minister for Public Services’ announcement that the Welsh Government would not give consideration to a voluntary merger of the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Councils.
It was unclear as to the current position with regard to the future of local government in Wales although it was understood that the Minister for Public Services would publish a map in the Summer.
The comments of the Head of Performance and Development were noted.
(e) Health and Safety in Schools –
It was reported that over the past year, the Trade Unions had been made aware of serious health and safety issues within the responsibility of the Directorate of Learning and Skills. The Trade Unions advised that one school had been reported to the internal Health and Safety team. Inspections had taken place and some of the issues had been resolved.
The Trade Unions’ concerns were that someone be made accountable for the health and safety issues and what action was to be taken against those parties and indeed the enforcement of provision to stop further infringements of health and safety in schools.
Mr. Carter said that health and safety was a big issue.
Mr. Carter referred to an issue regarding fire doors at a school in Barry and Mr. Carter reaffirmed the Trade Unions’ expectations in relation to the wellbeing of the staff and the children at the school.
The Corporate Health and Safety Officer advised that a number of inspections had taken place at the school which had identified a number of fire doors which had been locked.
The Director of Learning and Skills had written to the school on this issue. Further inspections had revealed that the doors were no longer being locked.
Furthermore, a Fire Officer had inspected the school and the doors had not been locked.
The school had been informed that it must develop a management plan regarding measures to provide the appropriate security to the workplace as well as enabling the safe operation of fire doors.
The Director of Learning and Skills advised that the comments of the Health and Safety team were always taken seriously.
Mr. Carter advised that he had been approached by some members of his Trade Union alleging that they had felt coerced into performing certain tasks.
Mr. Dimmick stated that, when Health and Safety issues were being overlooked, the people responsible should be told. He asked if the recent Corporate Health and Safety Officer’s letter could be copied to the relevant workers in the school.
It was suggested that Health and Safety training could be given to school Governors although the view was expressed that this was not a general problem.
The Director of Learning and Skills advised that under Local Management of Schools, many Health and Safety matters were delegated to schools who were supported in order to secure good management of health and safety.
Having discussed the issue, it was
AGREED – T H A T Cabinet
(1) Be advised of the Joint Consultative Forum’s concern that despite the best efforts of officers of the Authority, not all schools took full responsibility for Health and Safety matters.
(2) Be requested to agree that Health and Safety issues form part of the training for school Governors.
(f) Police Interviews –
The Trade Unions had requested the development of implementation of guidance for managers and a cross Authority protocol to deal with staff being interviewed by the Police. Furthermore, the Forum was requested to consider allowing staff to have representation from the recognised Trade Unions at such meetings.
Mr. Carter advised of a situation which had resulted in members of staff being interviewed by the Police and requested that a procedure be developed to respond to any potential incidents.
The Head of Business Management and Innovation advised that she had drafted a protocol.
It was not possible to change the Police protocols, although the Council had put support mechanisms in place.
The draft protocol would be considered at the next scheduled meeting of the joint Terms and Conditions meeting.
The Chairman advised that the Council did not have any power over how the Police conducted their investigations and the Council was limited in what it could do in such circumstances.
(g) Corporate Health and Safety Committee –
The minutes of the Corporate Health and Safety Committee held on 14th January 2015 were considered.
With regard to Minute No. 4, “Outcome from HSE Inspection re Hand-Arm Vibration”, the Forum was advised that every member of staff using vibration machinery had to complete a form in advance of using the machine and not after the event.
The internal Health and Safety team was aware that these forms were not being completed properly and was exploring options to improve recording arrangements.
The Council had looked at the introduction of electronic monitoring machines but it had been determined that these were not cost effective.
The situation would be reconsidered, but this was not likely to be completed by the end of March.
Mr. Carter referred to the issue of the inspections on Waste Vehicles being reduced, which he advised was currently being looked into by Health and Safety. Mr. Carter recommended that comprehensive inspections be conducted on the Waste Vehicles and that this would be reinforced within the Service. He was monitoring the situation and would raise it at the Directorate Joint Consultative Forum meeting if concerns continued.
AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the Corporate Health and Safety Committee of 14th January 2015 be noted.
(h) Directed Time Budgets and Voluntary Activities in Schools –
This issue, raised by the Trade Unions, had been raised with the Cabinet Member for Education in September 2014. On his advice, Mr. Carter had written to the Director for Learning and Skills and had also raised the matter on behalf of the NASUWT at the Learning and Skills Directorate Joint Consultative Forum in October 2014. The Council, following consultation with the Governing Body, determined to reduce the wages from those staff who had advised that they were undertaking strike action and had refrained from attending at an Open evening at Barry Comprehensive School. The NASUWT was in dispute with the Local Authority over this issue.
Mr. Dimmick distributed a note on this issue to all present.
The Director of Learning and Skills stated that she had nothing further to add on this issue at present.
(i) Minutes of the Directorate Consultative Groups –
The minutes of the following Directorate Consultative Groups were received:
Learning and Skills – 8th October 2014
Resources – 15th October 2014
Social Services – 9th December 2014
Visible Services and Housing – 1st October 2014
Visible Services and Housing – 5th November 2014
Visible Services and Housing – 3rd December 2014
Visible Services and Housing – 7th January 2015.
AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the Directorate Consultative Group meetings be noted.
(j) Dates of Directorate Consultative Groups –
AGREED – T H A T the dates of the Directorate Consultative Groups as indicated below be noted:
Learning and Skills – 11th February 2015
Resources – 25th February 2015
Social Services – 12th January 2015
Visible Services and Housing – 11th February 2015.
(k) Update on Terms and Conditions Review –
It was reported that an important agreement had been reached with UNISON, GMB and UNITE on 8th January 2015 in relation to changes to terms and conditions for employees on Single Status / Green Book provisions.
Attached to the report was a summary note which had also been placed on StaffNet.
These were important agreements which had been negotiated in good faith with the Unions over the previous 12 months, and supported by Cabinet at its meeting on 17th November 2014. It would help contribute to the much needed savings targets across the Council and would also reinforce the principles of fairness and equity of the Council’s core conditions of service.
(l) Management of Attendance Policy Update –
Mr. Carter advised that he had been issued with a draft agreement which he in his capacity of Joint Secretary had categorically rejected on behalf of the joint Trade Unions.
The draft agreement had not taken account of:
- The 20% calculation
- The “totting-up” process.
The Trade Union side was disappointed with what it had received, and it was the view of Mr. Carter that the draft agreement was “set to fail”.
The Operational Manager, Human Resources, replied that this was a “very draft” draft agreement which contained room for further discussion. He further advised that there had been several joint meetings dedicated to consider the current draft policy but Mr. Carter had only advised of the joint response late on the previous Friday afternoon.
The draft document was not intended to be reported to Cabinet yet and represented “work in progress”.
AGREED – T H A T the update be noted.
(m) Feedback on Policy Development –
AGREED – T H A T the current position on the HR Policy Development be noted.
(n) Proposed Timetable of Meetings 2015/16 –
Following consideration of the proposed meeting dates for the 2015/16 municipal year, it was
AGREED – T H A T the proposed meetings dates as listed below be agreed:
6th July 2015
19th October 2015
22nd February 2016