Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Daksha Ghelani, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1881 E-mail:  daksha.ghelani@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Members:-

 

Ordinary Member

 

Reserve Member

 

Councillor Adam Swersky

Councillor Sachin Shah

Councillor Graham Henson

Councillor Varsha Parmar

 

2.

Appointment of Chair and Vice-Chair

To appoint (i) a Chair from the Employees’ side and (ii) a Vice-Chair from the Council side for the Municipal Year 2018/19.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That

 

(1)          David Searles (Unison) be appointed as the Chair of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2018-19;

 

(2)          subject to his agreement, Councillor Adam Swersky be appointed as the Vice-Chair of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2018-19.

3.

Appointment of Employees' side Representatives

To note the following appointments made by Cabinet on 21 June 2018:

 

UNISON Representatives:  Darren Butterfield, Gary Martin and David Searles

GMB Representative: Pamela Belgrave

Teacher Representatives:  Louise Crimmins (Nation Union of Teachers), Anne Lyons (National Association of Headteachers), 1 Vacancy

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the following appointments made by Cabinet on 21 June 2018 be noted:

 

UNISON Representatives:  

Darren Butterfield, Gary Martin and Davis Searles

 

GMB Representative:

Pamela Belgrave

 

Teacher Representatives:

Louise Crimmins (Nation Union of Teachers), Anne Lyons (National Association of Headteachers), 1 vacancy

 

4.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Forum;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that the following interests were declared:

 

Agenda Items 9/10 – Harrow Unison LG Branch and GMB Harrow Branch Report on Housing Directorate/Response to an employees’ side report on the Housing Directorate

 

Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a member of the Unite Union.  She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Varsha Parmar declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a member of USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers).  She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

CouncillorAngella Murphy-Strachan declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a member of the Teachers’ Union, NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers).  She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Sachin Shah declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of the Unite Union.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

5.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 137 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2018 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2018 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

6.

Petitions, Public Questions and Deputations

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 47 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that no public questions, petitions or deputations were received at the meeting.

RECOMMENDED ITEMS

7.

Harrow Unison LG Branch and GMB Harrow Branch Report on Housing Directorate

Report from the Harrow Unison LG Branch and GMB Harrow Branch

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum received a submission from the Employees’ side in relation to the management re-structure in the Housing Directorate (agenda item 9).  The submission was considered in conjunction with the response report from the Corporate Director of Community at agenda item 10.

 

The Employees’ side representatives presented their report and highlighted the following key aspects, full details of which were set out in their report:

 

-               lack of engagement with the Trades’ Unions from the outset of the Review and upon embarking on the DMA process;

 

-               lack of respect for and being dismissive of a member of staff who was part of the Review and held the position of GMB Branch Secretary.  In addition, at a Communities Directorate Joint Committee meeting, the Management’s reference to “what you mean, Manual Staff” was unacceptable when questioned about the career progression of junior staff and which showed no consideration for the equalities position of a public employer;

 

-               entering into a programme which identified voluntary redundancy without any formal engagement with the Unions.  The Employees’ side representatives stated that dismissal via voluntary redundancy ought to have triggered a formal consultation process;

 

-               senior officers had ignored the instructions of  a Corporate Director to engage with the Unions, which would not have been tolerated if junior members of staff had done the same;

 

-               in order to move forward, the Trades’ Unions had engaged in meetings to consider the proposed new structure.  However, it became evident that the structure had been designed by Heads of Services rather than the Divisional Director.  The Employees’ side alleged that this had resulted in protectionism - Heads of Services securing their own positions - and with higher than average salaries compared to others in similar positions.  They also expressed concern at the compressed working hours of these Heads of Services who appeared to opt for a Monday or Friday as their preferred day off instead of a day mid-week;

 

-               benefits of the proposed new structure to customers were not evident and there was no desire to produce a structure that would be beneficial to the customer.  In fact, the Review proposal appeared to place customers at risk.  Additionally, the impact of the Review would impact adversely on junior members of staff as the majority of the job losses would affect those grades;

  

-               use of unacceptable language on an external website and the resulting reputation damage caused by a senior member of staff.  There appeared to have been no action taken against that member of staff for bringing the Council into disrepute;

 

-               lack of respect and dignity given to staff in Housing Needs and some staff had been placed at risk of abuse.  This matter was part of an ongoing investigation.

 

The Employees’ side representatives requested that the Administration ensure that the rules of employment had been complied with, and the rules on conduct were followed, and that the salaries in the Housing Directorate were comparable with other areas of the Council in order to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Response to an Employees' Side Report on the Housing Directorate

Report of the Corporate Director of Community

Additional documents:

Minutes:

See Minute 7.

RESOLVED ITEMS

9.

INFORMATION REPORT - Annual Health and Safety Report and Current Update pdf icon PDF 938 KB

Report of the Corporate Director of Community

Minutes:

The Forum received a report of the Corporate Director of Community, which summarised the Council’s health and safety performance for the year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.  The report gave an overview of health and safety for 2017-18 financial year, as well as the last six months’ actions. An officer introduced the report and highlighted paragraphs 2.1 – 2.5, including appendix 1, details of which were set out in the report.

 

The Corporate Health and Safety had gone through a refresh programme and a Corporate Health and Safety Action Plan had been put in place setting out the short, medium and long term plans.  This had been signed off in July 2018 by the Governance, Audit, Risk Management and Standards Committee.

 

In January 2018, the first Corporate Health and Safety Board was held and chaired by the Corporate Director of Community.  A clear steer started to be given to move it forward in partnership with the Unions.

 

To support the Council’s work and commitment to Health and Safety, funding was secured for a Corporate Health and Safety Manager position on a temporary basis (6-9 months).  This position, which was expected to be in place in the New Year, would help take forward the Corporate Health and Safety Action Plan.  

 

The report also set out the key current issues being the redevelopment of the depot site, DNP tabled storage (from the recent manslaughter case), putting in place safe operating procedures and a recent housing reception incident.

 

An officer responded to various questions, as follows:

 

-               the flu vaccination voucher scheme offered to staff in 2014 had continued to be offered to vulnerable members of staff to help maintain staffing levels, however, he would clarify the position with Occupational Health who oversaw the scheme and inform the Member accordingly;

 

-               it was intended to expand on the London Healthy Workplace Charter in Harrow once the basics were in place.  The Council had been awarded the first stage of the London Healthy Workplace Charter in 2014, showing commitment in key areas, such as: corporate support, attendance management, physical activity and mental health and well-being;

 

-               work with Occupational Health would continue in order to identify absence/days lost and associated costs.  It would help identify trend and whether the Council was improving;

 

-               in relation to the comment that the report did not reflect the reality of incidents, the officer stated that the report provided an overview of incidents but that it would be possible to drill down further in order to identify individuals, particularly in relation to the comment about physical assaults.

 

Both the Council side and Employees’ side  representatives made the following comments:

 

-               the need to protect staff within the building as there appeared to be easy access into the building;

 

-               the need to ensure that those working at the Reception Desk, including security staff, were safe from attack.  Additionally, there was no form of protection for staff working at the Reception Desk and that a glass screen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

INFORMATION REPORT - Annual Equality in Employment Monitoring Report for 1 April 2017 - 31 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Report of the Interim Head of Employee and Customer Relations

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum received a report of the Head of Employee and Customer Relations, which set out employee data, presented by protected characteristic for the year ending 31 March 2018, relating to a range of employment matters.  The report also set out information on Harrow Council’s performance on equalities and the impact of its policies and practices on its employees in compliance with the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty set out in the Equality Act 2010 and the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011.

 

The Employees’ side representatives made the following comments in relation to page 76 of the agenda:

 

-               there was an issue with pay bands and what they felt was a lack of accountability at senior level such as damage to the reputation to the Council;

 

-               there were examples of junior staff with disability/ill-health issues being forced into early retirement.

 

In response, the Divisional Director of Strategic Commissioning and the Head of Employee and Customer Relations stated that there had been dismissals in the top pay band. They would also be happy to discuss with the Unions the specific examples of ‘forced’ retirements they had mentioned.  They would review some of the figures in the report on page 76 of the agenda as they might not be correct.  They noted the suggestion that additional data such as the actual numbers rather than just percentages were required and that it could be presented as exempt business (Part II) if there was any risk of identifying individuals as a result.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report and the comments made in the preamble be noted.

11.

Date of Next Meeting

30 January 2019

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that the next meeting of the Forum was scheduled to be held on 30 January 2019.