Appendix No CS1
Committee Corporate Services Committee
Committee Date 09/05/2001
IRVINE 28 June 2001 - At a meeting of the 1st Tier Joint Consultative Committee (Local Government Employees and Craft Operatives) of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Representing North Ayrshire Council - David Munn.
Representing UNISON - Stephanie Herd and Colin Turbett.
Representing GMB - Paul Houston and George McLaughlan.
Representing T&GWU - Sean O'Reilly and Alan Houliston.
Representing AEEU - Jim White.
Trade Union Advisors - Harry O'Neill, T&GWU and Frank Minnery, GBM.
T Orr, Corporate Director (Property Services); M Macfarlane, Assistant Chief Executive; S Ferguson, Principal Personnel Officer; C McBreen, Senior Safety Advisor; K Brankin, Personnel Officer (Personnel); and S Bale, Policy/Administration Officer (Chief Executive's).
Mr Munn in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Simon Macfarlane, Trade Union Adviser, Allison McGookin, Catriona Mulhern, Ian Wallace, Tom Parish and John Eaglesham (UNISON).
In terms of the Constitution, the meeting was inquorate. Those present agreed, however, to proceed to deal with the business.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 15 December 2000 were confirmed.
2. Single Status
The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) provided an update of single status and the job evaluation exercise.
A meeting had been held with the trade unions. There were a number of difficult issues to be resolved, but discussions would be continuing with a view to finding a way forward. The negotiations centred around 2 issues:-
Reduction of the working week by 1 April 2002
Corporate Services Committee
5 September 2001
1st Tier Joint Consultative Committee
(Local Government Employees and Craft Operatives)
28 June 2001
The job evaluation exercise
It was considered that the reduction of the working week could be examined separately from job evaluation. The job evaluation exercise was more complex. The main difficulty centred around ways of meeting the costs of this exercise.
The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) has presented proposals to the trade unions on how this can be achieved, but implementation will depend on agreement being reached. It is hoped to continue discussions following the summer recess.
The trade union representatives accepted that the 2 items could be dealt with separately. They expressed serious concerns, however, about the proposals which had been put to them with regard to ways of funding the cost of job evaluation, which they considered would erode employees conditions of service. It was also considered extremely unlikely that staff would be willing to accept such terms. It was acknowledged that this was a national issue, albeit that North Ayrshire Council is slightly further ahead of other Councils in presenting its proposals. The trade union representatives envisaged that the matter may therefore need to be taken up again nationally with COSLA and with the Scottish Parliament.
The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) accepted that some of the proposals are radical and that negotiations will be difficult, but there is no additional funding available from Government at present to meet the costs.
F Minnery, GMB referred to difficulties in the trade unions obtaining the job evaluation "grade administrator". The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel), who also acts as an advisor to COSLA was unaware of any discussions regarding this.
F Minnery agreed to take the matter up with COSLA.
3. Employee Absence Statistics - Monitoring Report
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) on the absence levels for the year ending March 2001. A revised copy of the figures for Social Services was made available.
Overall, North Ayrshire Council's figures for the year showed an improvement over last year's, but there is considerable scope for improvement in the level of absence. Action taken by Personnel included reviewing practices and processes in other local authorities, undertaking a survey of record cards, and discussions with managers and supervisors. Following the review of the current policy and procedures, draft proposals have been formulated which suggest a number of amendments.
These include increased emphasis on reporting and monitoring procedures and interview skills training for supervisors and managers to support them in conducting return to work and absence review interviews. A further report will be submitted on the proposed amendments.
The impact of absence on the work of the Council affects service delivery, as well as affecting costs. Raising awareness sessions on the impact of absence levels are proposed for managers and will include consultation with the trade unions.
The trade union representatives requested an analysis of the reasons for absence. They also made specific references to inconsistency in the implementation of the procedures for managing sickness absence.
After a full discussion, the Committee agreed (a) that a break-down of the reasons for sickness absence could be provided to 2nd Tier JCCs; (b) that a broad overview be provided to the 1st Tier JCC; and (c) that specific instances of inconsistency in implementing procedures should be raised at a Service level.
4. North Ayrshire Council Budget 2001/2002
The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) provided an update on the budget for 2001/2002.
Last year's budget outturn indicated a small budget surplus of £140,000 to be carried forward. This was the first occasion since reorganisation that a surplus will be carried forward. The Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) has indicated that following the first quarter of this financial year, the budget appears to be on course and he does not envisage any significant difficulties.
5. Health and Safety Issues
(a) Occupational Health Service - Change of Provider
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) on the change of contractor providing Occupational Health Services to the Council.
The Council's new Occupational Health provider is Sterling Healthcare Ltd who commenced their contract on 1 June 2001. The existing Senior Occupational Health Nursing Adviser has been retained by the new company, which has helped to ensure a smooth transition between the 2 contractors. After a settling in period, there will be a series of presentations to introduce the new provider and to reaffirm the role of the Occupational Health Service in the Council's absence management procedures.
Clarification was sought by the trade union representatives on the role of the Occupational Health Service Medical Adviser. The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) confirmed that the Medical Adviser reports to both the Council and the Pension Fund and that the advice will be consistent to both.
If there is a difference of medical opinion between the employee's own doctor and the Council's Medical Adviser, the opinion of an independent medical adviser can be sought. There is a separate appeal process to the Pension Fund.
Clarification was also sought on whether employees are advised of the reasons for referral to the Occupational Health Service. The Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) advised that referrals are made by managers when they wish to obtain information on the employee's likely recovery and timescale in relation to an illness.
(b) Employee Accident Statistics - Monitoring Report
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Personnel) on employee accident statistics.
A comparison of the previous 3 years shows that there is a downward trend in the number of incidents which had to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive in terms of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995. Assurances were given that risk assessments will be undertaken as a result of any reportable incidences.
The Committee agreed (a) that accident statistics be shown in future reports as a percentage of absence statistics; and (b) otherwise to note the report.
The meeting ended at 3.10 p.m.