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JOINT CONSULTATIVE FORUM

Minutes of a meeting held on 6th July, 2015.

Present:  Councillor G. Roberts (Chairman); Councillors K. Hatton, A.G. Powell, Mrs. A.J. Preston and C.J. Williams.

Representatives of the Trade Unions:  Ms. G. Southby (UNISON) (Vice-Chairman);
Mr. D. Dimmick (NASUWT), Mr. T. Greaves (GMB), Mr. R. Hughes (UNISON), Mr. C. Jordon (GMB), Ms. C. Mason (UNISON), Mr. G. Pappas (UNISON) and Mr. S. Robertson (UNITE).

ANNOUNCEMENT –

Prior to the commencement of business, the Chairman put a suggestion to the Forum that it consider reducing the numbers of Vale of Glamorgan Elected Members and Trade Union/Employee representatives required for a quorum.  In the JCF Constitution the quorum numbers were four Elected Members and eight Trade Union / Employee Representatives.  It was suggested that this be reduced to three Elected Members and six Trade Union / Employee Representatives.  The Chairman requested that the Trade Unions consider this suggestion and if they were happy to proceed that the matter be progressed accordingly.

(a)    Apologies for Absence -

These were received from Councillor F.T. Johnson and Mr. J. Davies (UNISON).

(b)    Confirmation of Trade Union Positions -

It was confirmed that Mr. Phil Carter was no longer the Unison Branch Secretary or the Joint Secretary for the Trade Unions and that a replacement had yet to be appointed.  The Trade Unions advised that Mr. G. Pappas (UNISON) would be the Joint Secretary for the purposes of this meeting and a vote would be arranged for the substantive appointment of this position.  It was also confirmed that Mr. N. Stokes was to remain as the Branch Secretary for GMB.

(c)    Minutes and Matters Arising -

AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd February, 2015 be accepted as an accurate record.

The Head of Human Resources advised that the issue of staff engagement in relation to the Reshaping Services Programme, raised at the previous meeting, would be addressed later in the agenda, with the update on the progress of the staff engagement sessions.   

It was confirmed that the recommendation in relation to Governor training on Health and Safety issues made at the Forum’s last meeting had been put to Cabinet on 22nd April, 2015.  The Director of Learning and Skills further confirmed that she had spoken with the Chairs of Governors in relation to a range of health and safety issues and also to Headteachers in order to raise the profile of these issues.  This would be followed up with training for Governors in the autumn school term.  

Mr. Pappas (UNISON) advised that the Trade Unions had received a response from Thompsons Solicitors in relation to police interviews and the Chairman confirmed that this issue was being progressed through the Joint Terms and Conditions Group.

The Head of Human Resources made reference to the concerns raised at the last Forum meeting in relation to the level of waste vehicle inspections being reduced.  He advised that these concerns had been looked into in some detail and confirmed that, following investigation of the issue, there were no concerns in relation to the level of vehicle inspections being carried out.  

(d)    Declarations of Interest -

Councillor G. Roberts declared an interest, the nature of which was that his partner had transferred to the employment of the Vale of Glamorgan Council as part of the Joint Regulatory Services Programme.  Councillor Roberts confirmed that he had been granted dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on staff matters.  

Councillor C.J. Williams declared an interest, the nature of which was that his wife worked in the Learning and Skills Directorate of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  Councillor Williams confirmed that he had a dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on staff matters.

(e)    Minutes of Directorate Consultative Groups -

The Minutes of the following Directorate Consultative Groups were received:

  • Learning and Skills - 11th February, 2015
  • Learning and Skills - 10th June, 2015
  • Social Services - 12th January, 2015
  • Social Services - 10th February, 2015
  • Social Services - 21st April, 2015
  • Visible Services and Housing - 4th February, 2015
  • Visible Services and Housing - 4th March, 2015
  • Visible Services and Housing - 6th May, 2015.

AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the Directorate Consultative Group meetings be noted.

(f)    Dates of Directorate Consultative Groups -

The Chairman informed the Forum that the meeting of the Social Services Directorate Consultative Group, held on 19th May, 2015 was purely an introductory meeting and therefore there were no minutes for this meeting.  

AGREED - T H A T the dates of the Directorate Consultative Groups as indicated below be noted:

  • Social Services - 19th May, 2015
  • Social Services - 16th June, 2015.

(g)    Minutes of the Corporate Health and Safety Committee - 8th June, 2015 -

The Corporate Health and Safety Officer informed the Forum that a second letter had been sent to Barry Comprehensive School on 19th June, 2015 with regard to the locking of fire doors and advised that a further unannounced inspection would be carried out at the school.

AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the Corporate Health and Safety Committee of 8th June, 2015 be noted.

(h)    Reshaping Services Update -

In presenting the report, the Head of Performance and Development informed the Forum that the Reshaping Services Programme All Projects Summary Highlight Report, attached at Appendix A, provided a status summary for each project ongoing as part of the Programme.  The document included a summary of the Programme, financial savings, programme activity updates, service specific projects work stream updates, corporate projects work stream updates and the log of the programme risks and issues.  The Summary Highlight Report was considered by the Reshaping Services Programme Board on a monthly basis and the Forum was informed that the Social Services Directorate had been reshaping services for the last few years and the Directorate’s Budget Programme – All Projects Summary Highlight report was attached at Appendix B.

The Chairman expressed the view that there was a lot of information contained within the report and that huge changes would be seen in the future as the Programme progressed.  The Head of Performance and Development confirmed that each project would be developed in its own right which would involve individual consultation exercises.  

Mr. Dimmick (NASUWT) queried the financial savings summary for the Additional Learning Needs and Inclusion Department, in that the minutes for the Directorate Consultative Group for Learning and Skills listed the Department’s required savings as £500,000, yet the Reshaping Services document listed it as £623,000.  In response, the Director of Learning and Skills advised that the savings required from Reshaping Services Programme for the ALN service totalled £500,000, however, this was only part of the Authority’s savings programme for the service.  The rest of the savings were contained within the Medium Term Financial Plan and these had been added to the savings for the Reshaping Services Programme, which in total came to £623,000.  Mr. Dimmick expressed concern that these financial savings would affect very vulnerable learners.

The Head of Performance and Development advised that the Reshaping Services Programme, including the financial savings, would need to be managed.  The Chairman expressed the view that all service areas would need to be reviewed in terms of alternative methods of service delivery in order to achieve the requisite savings.  

AGREED - T H A T the Reshaping Services Update, including the attached Appendices, be noted.

(i)    Staff Engagement Sessions Update -

In presenting the report to the Forum, the Head of Human Resources advised that the figures contained within the report were slightly out of date, and at present 49 staff engagement sessions had been delivered in the previous six weeks, with a total of approximately 1,500 employees attending.  The sessions had been delivered by 16 members of the Council’s Senior Management Team to a mixture of staff across the Authority using a set presentation.

The four objectives for the staff engagement sessions were as follows:

  • To inform staff as to the challenges faced by the Council, which included the £24m savings already made and the Local Government Change Agenda.
  • To reassure staff in regard to the Reshaping Services Programme Agenda, the Council’s response to austerity and alternative service delivery methods.  The message given was that the Vale of Glamorgan Council had already delivered £24m of savings in the last four years, yet it was now entering unprecedented times and therefore things needed to be done differently.  
  • To inform staff as to what the Reshaping Services Programme meant for them.
  • To provide an opportunity for staff to raise questions, provide comments and ideas about ways of saving money and to provide them with an opportunity to attend four workshops, one of which would focus on the formulation of a new Vale employee contract.

The four workshops would focus on the following topics:

  • Communications
  • Training and Development Strategy
  • Engagement Issues
  • The expectations for staff and Managers.

The Head of Human Resources advised there had been a great response so far with attendance levels of 72%.  There had also been a high level of response to the upcoming workshops.  116 questions resulting from the sessions had been answered and posted on the StaffNet with 127 which required responses.  A lot of good feedback had been received from the sessions and the Head of Human Resources expressed his gratitude for the attendance of the Trade Unions.  

The Chairman expressed the view that the engagement sessions were a positive way of dealing with a negative situation.

AGREED - T H A T the update on the Staff Engagement Sessions be noted.

(j)    The Leadership Café -

The Head of Human Resources, in presenting the report, informed the Forum that part of the Council’s Workforce Plan involved consideration of Leadership going forward and Succession Planning.  With a view to this, the Council had developed the Leadership Café which provided monthly voluntary, extracurricular sessions.  A year’s programme had been developed which consisted of a variety of leadership development topics and the sessions were low industry and not costed.  The sessions included presentations from guest speakers, including officers from the All-Wales Academy at the Welsh Assembly.  All three sessions that had taken place had been full to capacity; and sessions were open to all employees.  

Mr. Hughes (UNISON) commented that the session he had attended had been positive and the Chairman expressed the view that these sessions were a positive development.  Furthermore, he was of the view that these sessions would create a good camaraderie across Directorates and that Human Resources should be congratulated for establishing the Leadership Café.  

The Head of Human Resources advised that the presentations provided at the previous three sessions were on the StaffNet.  

A Member asked whether best practice had been identified in other Local Authorities and, if so, whether these Councils had been invited to attend the Leadership Café sessions.  In response, the Head of Human Resources advised that officers had attended from the All-Wales Academy and provided talks on such topics as Positive Psychology.  Other Local Authorities had attended, as they were keen to establish similar sessions within their Authorities.  

The Vice-Chairman suggested that they look to invite other individuals who have worked with Council’s, such as Trade Union representatives, to attend future Leadership Cafés.  In response, the Head of Human Resources expressed the view that this was a good idea and advised that an officer from Building Services had attended one of the sessions on new leaders and had facilitated interviews with the attendees.  

AGREED - T H A T the contents of the update report on the Leadership Café be noted.

(k)    Employee Relations Framework Agreement Update -

The Forum was provided with an update on the progress and status of the Employee Relations Framework Agreement.

The Head of Human Resources advised that the Employee Relations Framework Agreement had been formulated within the context of austerity savings and aimed to identify how services could be provided differently.  Discussions with Trade Unions had resulted in five main areas being identified, which are as set out below:

  • Lot 1 - Resolution of residual elements from 2012 Single Status Agreement
  • Lot 2 - Contribution to budget savings
  • Lot 3 - Supporting change
  • Lot 4 - Review of Attendance Policy
  • Lot 5 - Increasing flexibility and capacity.

These elements of the Framework Agreement were set out in more detail at Appendix A, attached to the report.

Mr. Dimmick (NASUWT) queried the meaning of the ‘smiley face’ icon and the Head of Human Resources advised that it indicated that progress was going well and this icon had been used as it cost more to print in colour, for example Red, Amber and Green.  The Head of Human Resources advised that £70,000 of savings had been made via the Annual Leave Purchase Scheme and was of the view that this contributed to the work / life balance of employees.

The Head of Human Resources advised that he had submitted the Employee Relations Framework Agreement 2015/16 for the Public Sector Personnel Managers Association (PPMA), Excellence in HR Awards 2015.  The Framework Agreement had subsequently been shortlisted as a finalist in the Creating Positive Employee Relations category.

A Member expressed the view that purchase of Annual Leave was a good idea and requested confirmation that all staff involved had been fully briefed; he further asked whether this scheme would be carried out on an annual basis.  In response, the Head of Human Resources advised that the Annual Leave Purchase Scheme was permanent and would be carried out on an annual basis. He further confirmed that all staff involved had been well briefed, particularly with regard to implications on pension contributions.  

The Member also asked whether the extension of the annual leave carry over had been fully discussed and agreed by the Trade Unions.  In response, the Head of Human Resources advised that the proposals had been taken to the Change Forum and Cabinet and it had been introduced to allow staff who were unable to take leave at certain times of the year, due to the exigencies of the service, to carry over more leave.  He also advised that annual leave periods for staff worked either on a financial year calendar or from employees’ birthdays.  

The Head of Human Resources, in response to a question from a Member, advised that a mechanism had been required to address concerns in relation to change management and to facilitate consultation and an overarching Change Forum was established to ensure that change was well managed; he further informed the Forum as to the membership of the Change Forum and the Corporate Management Team.  

AGREED - T H A T the update report on the Employee Relations Framework Agreement be noted.

(l)    Management of Attendance Policy Update -

The Forum was provided with an update in relation to the Council’s Management of Attendance Policy which had been subject to a review over recent months to reflect concerns as previously raised by Trade Union colleagues at the Joint Consultative Forum.

A number of meetings had taken place in order to address the concerns raised, and a draft revised Policy was attached the report at Appendix A.  The policy was due to be introduced in autumn 2015 subject to final comments from the Trade Unions.  

AGREED - T H A T the update on the Management of Attendance Policy be noted.

(m)    Feedback on Policy Development -

The Forum was provided with an update in relation to the current position on HR policy development as at 29th May, 2015.

AGREED - T H A T the current position on the HR Policy Development be noted.

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