JOINT CONSULTATIVE FORUM
Minutes of a meeting held on 19th October, 2015.
Present: Councillor G. Roberts (Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, A.G. Powell, Mrs. A.J. Preston and C.J. Williams.
Representatives of the Trade Unions: Mr. T. Greaves (GMB), Mr. C. Jordon (GMB), Mr. N. Stokes (GMB), Mr. G. Pappas (UNISON), Mr. J. Richards (UNISON), Mr. K. Armstrong (UNISON), Mr. R. Hughes (UNISON) and Mr. D.J. Dimmick (NASUWT).
Officers: Mr. H. Isaac, Mr. M. Punter, Mr. L. Hart, Ms. A. Davies, Ms. S. Alderman and Ms. C. Mason.
(a) Apologies for Absence -
These were received from Councillors K. Hatton and F.T. Johnson and Ms. G. Southby (UNISON) (Vice-Chairman).
(b) Declarations of Interest -
The following declarations of interest were received:
Councillor G. Roberts -
Reason for Declaration -
Councillor Roberts had been granted dispensation by the Standards Committee to speak and vote on matters relating to Council Policy and Terms and Conditions which impact on the Council's workforce generally.
Reason for Declaration -
Councillor Roberts had been granted dispensation to speak and vote at meetings of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Penarth Town Council by the Standards Committee on matters relating to the Vale of Glamorgan Council's "Reshaping Services Strategy".
Councillor C.J. Williams -
Reason for Declaration -
Councillor Williams had been granted dispensation by the Standards Committee to speak and vote at meetings of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Dinas Powys Community Council on matters relating to the Vale of Glamorgan Council's "Reshaping Services Strategy".
(c) Minutes and Matters Arising -
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 6th July, 2015 be accepted as an accurate record.
Mr. G. Pappas confirmed that he was the Joint Secretary.
In referring to the reference within Minute (g), namely reference to the locking of fire doors at Barry Comprehensive School, Mr. Dimmick read the following statement to the Forum:
"The Trades Unions would like to express their gratitude to the officers and Elected Members of the JCF for the efforts they have made to resolve the fire safety issues at Barry Comprehensive School. That advice that was given, and ignored, is a matter of regret, as the issue had to be passed to the regional office of the NASUWT, who sought the assistance of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to bring about a resolution.
Be assured that we will always continue to pursue such matters in the best interests of our members and the general public to keep our working environments safe and to ensure that the negligent are held to account.
The Trade Unions appreciate fully the great lengths that officers of the Council went to. We are grateful for their efforts and apportion no blame to them for the ongoing difficulties that were encountered."
The Corporate Health and Safety Officer outlined the background and advised the Forum that as a result of a visit by the Fire Service, nine fire doors at Barry Comprehensive School had been identified as being defective and had since been replaced.
A subsequent inspection by the Fire Service had identified a number of contraventions and the Authority was awaiting details from the Fire Service.
It was reported that the Leadership Café would next meet on 29th October, 2015.
(d) Proposal to Change Quorum Levels -
Concerns had been raised at the previous meeting of the Forum concerning the difficulties of being quorate if there were insufficient number of Elected Members or Trade Union representatives on the actual day of the Forum. This had happened on a number of occasions in the past and had caused delays to the starting time of the meeting.
The Forum consisted of seven Elected Members and the employee representatives consisted of twelve representatives, eight from the Corporate Trade Unions and four from the Teaching Association Trade Unions.
The Joint Consultative Forum Constitution stated (para 5.5) "The Quorum at a meeting will be four Elected Members and eight Trade Union / employee representatives". It was suggested that the quorum levels be reduced to three Elected Members and six Trade Union / employee representatives. The proposed draft changes to the Constitution were attached at Appendix A to the report, which also showed in bold recent administrative changes in the new Directorates.
Following a full discussion and the support of all present, it was
AGREED - T H A T the above proposals be approved and be recommended to Cabinet for adoption.
Reason for recommendation
To ensure future meetings of the Joint Consultative Forum are quorate.
(e) Minutes of Directorate Consultative Groups -
The minutes of the following Directorate Consultative Groups were received:
- Social Services - 16th June, 2015
- Social Services - 14th July, 2015
- Social Services - 9th September, 2015
- Visible Services and Housing - 5th August, 2015.
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the Directorate Consultative Group meetings be noted.
(f) 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 - 7th October, 2015
- Social Services - 20th October, 2015
- Environment and Housing Services - 7th October, 2015.
(g) Corporate Car Pool Scheme -
The Director of Environment and Housing provided feedback on the success of the Corporate Car Pool Scheme and plans to further refine and expand its application.
The Forum was advised that the existing Pool Cars were on hire by the Council.
Electric cars had been trialled but had not proved suitable for the Council's requirements.
The Council had recently submitted a bid at a Government e-auction for 40 diesel-powered vehicles.
The Director offered to provide further feedback to the Joint Consultative Forum as the scheme unfolded.
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the presentation be noted.
(h) Reshaping Services Update -
The Head of Performance and Development reported on:
- The Reshaping Services Programme All Projects Summary Highlights
- The Social Services Budget Programme All Projects Summary Highlights.
The Forum was advised that individual projects were at various stages of completion.
For many projects, options appraisals were being completed. Once the business case was completed, consultation would commence.
Reference was made to the pressure being placed on staff as a result of the Reshaping Services Agenda.
Following discussions, it was
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.
(i) Update on Staff Engagement Approach -
The Forum received an update on the employee engagement briefing sessions as implemented over the Summer and the proposed follow up actions.
The key objectives of the sessions were as follows:
- To share an understanding of the current organisational challenges
- To share plans to respond to such challenges (reshaping services)
- To discuss the implications for employees
- To seek help with the development of key engagement themes.
Some of the key statistics relevant to the process were as set out below:
Number of sessions
June / July / August 2015
Number of presenters
Total number of employees who attended
Engagement Card Response
Number of questions
Number of nominees for workshops
Although employees were not specifically asked to evaluate the success of the sessions, it was clear from the level of attendance (70%), the volume of questions raised (328) and the number of nominees for the workshops (575), that these sessions were perceived as a worthwhile exercise.
Extremely challenging questions had been raised together with some very supportive and encouraging comments about the process and the opportunity for engagement.
Some 328 questions had been logged and answered as a result of the engagement sessions. A complete list of all questions had now been posted on StaffNet and would be referenced as part of the September Core Brief sessions. It was clearly important that this was cascaded to employees who did not have access to StaffNet.
The report summarised the level of interest in the four "follow-on" workshops.
Preparations for the workshops would be completed by the end of the month with a view to implementation in October / November. It was felt important that there was a level of consistency in the formatting of the process and that all volunteers were afforded the opportunity to be involved.
With this in mind, it was proposed to run the follow up engagement process using the model set out in Appendix C to the report. This would be based on the use of:
- An initial survey to help focus / prioritise the key issues in advance, and at the same time ensure a wide and inclusive approach
- A follow up half day "conference" for each of the four workshop areas, facilitated by each of the workshop facilitators in order to explore the key issues in detail. It was estimated that attendance at each session would be in the order of 50-80.
- A final "one off" working group with 6-8 "conference" nominees in order to refine the product and to present to CMT.
It was hoped that the Council's Corporate Management Team could consider and sign off outcomes at the turn of the year with a view to preparing for the new "Vale Contract" by the beginning of the 2016/17 financial year.
The current engagement work was congruent with a range of other (and ongoing) strategic initiatives. The outcomes of the engagement strategy would:
- Help shape and articulate any changes to organisational values and behaviours as part of the revised Corporate Plan 2016-2020
- Underpin the organisational development (and workshop development) changes necessary as part of the Council's Reshaping Services Strategy
- Mirror the leadership development work emerging from the Leadership Café sessions and ultimately help shape a revised Leadership Development Programme
- Support and inform other key activities as set out in the Corporate Assessment action plan including reviews of the Council's communications, performance, induction and appraisal processes.
Members enquired as to attempts that may have been made to engage with the 30% of employees who had not attended the staff engagement sessions and the Forum was advised:
- All members of staff had been invited
- A second invite was sent to anyone who had not attended the first session
- A third invite was subsequently sent if necessary. If this approach failed, attempts were made to engage the individual via a different format.
Mr. Dimmick asked how the outcome of the Workshops would be "cascaded" to staff not on StaffNet and was advised that all managers had been instructed to make the documents available to all.
Mr. Dimmick stated that he would not wish the Reshaping Services Agenda to inhibit the work of the Trade Unions and was advised that the primary aim of the Workshops was to make staff aware of what would be required.
A Member proposed that Members be invited to attend the "follow-on" workshops. Following a period of discussion the proposal was subsequently withdrawn.
AGREED - T H A T the update on the staff engagement approach be noted.
(j) 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.
The initiative hoped to exploit the good relations the Council experienced with the Trade Unions.
Lot 5, "Increasing Flexibility and Capacity" was currently the subject of review. Matters that elongated processes were being considered.
A workshop had been held with the Trade Unions recently with the view of considering the Council's Grievance Policy. Consideration was given to how the process could be improved.
The Grievance Policy had previously comprised three stages but now, following discussions, it was intended that the process would reduce to two stages.
Mr. Pappas praised the initiative and the fact that the Council and Trade Unions were working together.
AGREED - T H A T the update report on the Employee Relations Framework Agreement be noted.
(k) Management of Attendance Policy Update -
The Forum was provided with an update in relation to the Council's Management of Attendance Policy. The Head of Human Resources advised the Forum that the Management of Attendance Policy had been rewritten in response to the Trade Unions' concerns.
A meeting on the revised Policy would be held with the Trade Unions on 27th October.
Mr. Pappas enquired if the date of the meeting could be delayed by one week and this was agreed.
AGREED - T H A T the update on the Management of Attendance Policy be noted.
(l) Feedback on Policy Development -
The Forum was provided with an update in relation to the current position on HR Policy Development as at 18th September, 2015.
AGREED - T H A T the current position on the HR Policy Development be noted.