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: Vishal Seegoolam, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1883 E-mail:  vishal.seegoolam@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

91.

Appointment of Chairman

To receive a nomination from the Employee’s Side as to the Chair of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2012/13.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To appoint Gary Martin, representing the Trade Unions, as Chairman of the Forum for the 2012/13 Municipal Year.

92.

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

 

Steve Compton

Davis Searles

Lynne Ahmad

Deborah Hattam

 

93.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of personal or prejudicial interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Forum;

(b)               all other Members present in any part of the room.

Minutes:

Agenda Item 9 – Terms of Reference for the Employees; Consultative Forum; Agenda Item 10 – Information Report – Annual Health and Safety Report 2011/12; Agenda Item 11 – Information Report – Response to Unison Health and Safety Report; Agenda Item 12 – Employees’ Side Report on Fairness and Consistency in Dignity at Work Complaints; Agenda Item 13 – Management’s Response to Employee’s Side Report on Fairness and Consistency in Dignity at Work Complaints; Agenda Item 14 – Information Report – Follow Up Actions.

 

Councillor Bob Currie declared a personal interest in that he was a retired Unison member and his son worked for the Council.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Graham Henson declared a personal interest in that he was a member of the Communication Workers Union and he had a relative employed by the Council.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Agenda Item 12 – Employees’ Side Report on Fairness and Consistency in Dignity at Work Complaints; Agenda Item 13 – Management’s Response to Employee’s Side Report on Fairness and Consistency in Dignity at Work Complaints

 

Councillor Paul Osborn declared a personal interest in that he was the Portfolio Holder who had agreed the current Dignity at Work Procedures.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

94.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To note the appointment at the Cabinet meeting held on 24 May 2012 of Councillor Graham Henson as Vice-Chairman of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2012/13.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note the appointment at the Cabinet meeting held on 24 May 2012 of Councillor Graham Henson as Vice-Chairman of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2012/13.

95.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 18 April 2012 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 18 April 2012 be taken as read and signed as a correct record subject to the following amendments on:

 

·                     Minute Item 85, Page 74, 8th bullet point be amended to insert the following:

 

“The modernisation proposals posed a significant risk to Unison members.  The redundancy proposal did not contribute towards the savings expected and the proposal to reduce salary protection to one year would make alterations to jobs through downgrades cheaper and easier through generic job descriptions”.

 

·                     Minute Item 85, Page 74, 9th bullet point be amended to read the following:

 

“Unison made a formal proposal that as Members did not suffer any impact as a result of modernisation, they should endure a similar, across the board percentage reduction so that the burden of cuts was shared from top to bottom”.

 

·                     Minute Item 86, Page 77, 1st paragraph be amended to insert the following:

 

“There was a degree of hypersensitivity on the Council’s part regarding the questions asked and the inaccuracies identified in the report. Additionally the responsible officer headed a large public sector organisation of some 4,500 employees and should expect, from time to time, scrutiny and accountability for actions and decisions taken.

 

·                     Minute Item 86, Page 77, bullet point 4 be amended to read the following:

 

“Unison believed that the previous meetings held with the Council were formal and referenced members to the January 2012 Cabinet report, paragraph 2.12 page 3.  This reference was used to corroborate Unison’s view that there was a misrepresentation of what was presented as formal and informal meetings by the Council;

 

·                     Minute Item 86, Page 77, bullet point 5 be amended to read the following:

 

“Unison referenced the January 2012 Cabinet report page 8, fifth paragraph to highlight the inaccuracy and contradiction in management’s response to question 8 (ECF Agenda, 18 April 2012, page 29) the Cabinet report stated that an ‘Equality Impact Assessment’ had been carried out while the answer to question 8 stated that an EQIA could not be completed until the proposals had been developed.  Unions highlighted a contradiction and had asked that it be corrected”.

 

·                     Minute Item 86, Page 79, bullet point 1 be amended to include the following:

 

“The Leader of the Council gave a commitment to Unison that staff would be treated fairly and equitably in attempts to reach a collective agreement through ‘Modernisation’.

 

·                     Minute Item 86, Page 79, bullet point 2 be removed.

96.

Petitions, Petitions and Deputations

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 49 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

Minutes:

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

RESOLVED ITEMS

97.

Terms of Reference for the Employees' Consultative Forum pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To consider and confirm the Forum’s Terms of Reference.

Minutes:

The Forum was presented with their current Terms of Reference.  During consideration of this item, Members of the Forum made a number of comments as follows:

 

·                     the Terms of Reference could be improved to ensure that they were fit for purpose going into the future;

 

·                     consideration could be given to whether Trade Union Members of the Forum received voting rights;

 

·                     the number of GMB Unions representatives on the Forum should be reviewed;

 

·                     the representatives from the Teaching Unions had not attended a meeting of the Forum for some time.  The Divisional Director of Human Resources & Development and Shared Services undertook to remind the teaching unions that they were entitled to send a representative to these meetings.

 

A Member of the Forum proposed that a working group should be set up to review the Forum’s Terms of Reference and produce any views, comments or recommendations for consideration.  This working group should include representatives from the Trade Unions.

 

RESOLVED:  That a working group be established to conduct a review of the Forum’s Terms of Reference.

98.

INFORMATION REPORT - Annual Health and Safety Report 2011/12 pdf icon PDF 326 KB

Report of the Assistant Chief Executive.

Minutes:

An officer introduced a report which summarised the Council’s Health and Safety performance from April 2011 to 31 March 2012.  The officer reported the following:

 

·                     the report detailed the steps taken to deliver year 1 of the 2 year Improvement Plan developed to enable the Council to produce a robust Health and Safety Management System;

 

·                     the report was much more positive than last year but he Council would not become complacent.  It was still important to deliver the steps necessary in the second year of the Improvement Plan;

 

·                     there had been a 39% reduction in accidents.  However only 2 years worth of statistics had been obtained so it was important to obtain a further year’s date before making any meaningful analysis;

 

·                     there was further work being conducted by the Corporate Health and Safety Group.  In addition to this, new starters were being trained in Health and Safety.

 

During the discussion on this item, Members of the Forum raised a number of issues, which officers responded to as follows:

 

·                     there were a significant amount of accidents in schools which accounted for the fact that teaching assistants were within the top 3 professions who suffered from accidents.  It was important to note that trips, slips and falls amounted to accidents;

 

·                     information relating to Academies had been taken out of the analysis report so like for like data was being compared;

 

·                     in the future, officers would attempt to separate data in relation to the former Adults and Housing directorate separately;

 

·                     officers had been liaising with schools regarding asbestos management and completing self audit tools relating to this issue and the management of health and safety.  Asbestos management plans were in place.  Corporate properties were also being continuously monitored;

 

·                     information on the outcome of the self audit tools in relation to schools be provided at the next Union Partnership meeting;

 

·                     any accidents involving facilities were classified as office based accidents.  This may account for why there were a high proportion of accidents classified as office based within the Community and Environment Directorate last year.  The specific reasons were unknown but workforce data could be analysed to see if the trends continued;

 

·                     investigations were ongoing in relation to having a central database within the Council relating to Asbestos management;

 

·                     any incidents involving visitors and councillors were recorded, however the report presented focused on those incidents relating to staff;

 

·                     when broken down, approximately 96-98% of accidents were minor in their nature in relation to physical assault;

 

·                     there had been discussions over the years regarding testing staff for alcohol and drugs.  There was currently no policy on testing for this and there were a number of implications and sensitivities if this was adopted.  Before any policy of this kind was introduced, there would need to be full consultation with the Trade Unions;

 

·                     continuous work was required on asbestos management.  A programme had been set in place and officers had been regularly visiting schools to assist them in this process;

 

·                     officers had been advised that the asbestos plan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

INFORMATION REPORT - Response to Unison Health and Safety Report pdf icon PDF 191 KB

Report of the Assistant Chief Executive.

Minutes:

An officer introduced the report and explained that the Forum had requested a joint report from officers and Unison to be presented to this meeting.  However this had not been possible for a number of reasons.  The report presented to the Committee highlighted areas of agreement and areas of disagreement.  Officers would work closely with the new Union Health and Safety representative to address the outstanding issues.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

100.

Employees' Side Report on Fairness and Consistency in Dignity at Work Complaints and Management's Response

Report from Employees’ Side.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A representative from Unison introduced the report and explained that it addressed several concerns that the unions had in relation to the Council’s Dignity at Work (DAW) Procedure.

 

During his presentation, the representative made the following points:

 

·                     some decisions made under the Dignity at Work Procedure were contradictory and without evidence to corroborate the judgements made;

 

·                     this was not fair and contrary to principles of natural justice especially when there was a requirement for employees to provide evidence as part of their submissions;

 

·                     if there was no requirement for management to give evidence, this therefore meant that decisions were being based on opinion and hearsay and there was a greater risk of personal beliefs and prejudices impacting upon the decision;

 

·                     the Dignity at Work Procedure was used by a diverse workforce and it was important to ensure natural justice prevailed;

 

·                     the response provided by management in relation to the issues raised instilled no confidence in the DAW procedure;

 

·                     the last report presented to the Forum detailed some information relating to DAW appeals.  However they did not detail whether the outcomes reached had been based on evidence submitted;

 

·                     it was proposed that the Forum authorise a review of all DAW outcomes over the last two years to seek assurance that decisions had been corroborated and verified with evidence;

 

·                     the Unions would like to see a procedural change within the DAW procedure to place an emphasis on evidence being presented to justify arguments.

 

In response to the issues raised by Unison, the Divisional Director of Human Resources & Development and Shared Services made the following points:

 

·                     it was agreed that principles of natural justice, a fair hearing and providing a rationale for decisions were vital.  However it was important to note that the purpose of the DAW procedure was to reach a resolution.  It could be the case that in some circumstances to resolve an issue, not all the evidence was required to be studied, a justifiable sensible decision could still be reached;

 

·                     it was recognised that there was a need to understand the rationale behind any decision, but it was not believed that the standard of evidence the trade union were seeking was required;

 

·                     it was important that for all DAW complaints, employees felt satisfied with the process.  If an employee did not proceed to an appeal it was reasonable to assume they were satisfied with the outcome.  Where the employee was not satisfied, then they could exercise their right to appeal;

 

·                     there had been a number of outcomes reached where the outcome included that practices needed to change which was positive;

 

·                     there were also likely to be occasions that an employee could still be unhappy with the outcome even if it was fair and transparent;

 

·                     there would justifiably be concern if there was a raft of evidence and it was decided that there was no issue.  A review of this would then be correct.  However this was not the case;

 

·                     the Council did not have the resources to conduct a review  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100.

101.

INFORMATION REPORT - Follow-up Actions

Joint Report of the Divisional Director Human Resources & Development and Shared Services and the Director of Legal and Governance Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.