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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Manize Talukdar, Democratic & Electoral Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1323 E-mail:  manize.talukdar@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

9.

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 Graham Henson

Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick

Councillor David Perry

Councillor Keith Ferry

Councillor Paul Osborn

Councillor John Hinkley

Councillor Mina Parmar

Councillor Susan Hall

 

10.

Appointment of Vice-Chair

To appoint a Vice-Chair for the 2015/16 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that Mr Steve Compton be appointed Vice-Chair for the 2015/16 Municipal Year.

11.

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:

 

All Agenda Items

Councillor Jeff Anderson declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of Unison trade union.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Keith Ferry declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of the GMB trade union.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

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

 

Councillor Susan Hall declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was on the board of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.  She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Kiran Ramchandani declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a member of GMB trade union.  She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Agenda Item 9 – Part 1 of Annual Equality in Employment Monitoring Report (Data and Corporate Equalities Action Plan Update) For 1 April 2014 – 31 March 2015

 

Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane, who was in the public gallery, declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he had been Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Adults and Housing for some of the period covered by the report.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

12.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 76 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2015 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2015 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

13.

Petitions, Deputations and Public Questions

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 48 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that none were received.

RECOMMENDED ITEMS

14.

Trade Union Bill pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Report from the Harrow Unison LG Branch.

 

Minutes:

The Forum received a report from Harrow Unison LG Branch which set out the Branch’s concerns regarding the measures contained in the Trade Union Bill.

 

A Representative stated that the Bill, which had been widely opposed, would have a detrimental impact on industrial relations both nationally and locally for the following reasons:

 

·                     the intention to remove check-off arrangements in the public sector and the control and removal of facility time agreements, which were agreed locally between the Council and its recognised trade unions, would have a negative impact on terms and conditions, productivity, female employees and those on low incomes.  It would also undermine civil liberties as it would contravene article 11 of the Human Rights Act;

 

·                     the new threshold set for strike ballots would undermine trade unions’ collective bargaining ability.

 

A Member stated that, in her view, the bill would make strike action fairer and that the amount of facility time availed to union representatives should be determined by the Council, be logged and in the interest of transparency and openness, be published because it related to public funds.  With regard to check-off arrangements, union subscriptions were currently debited at source by the Council’s payroll department.  However, online and telephone banking facilities meant that in the future it would be easier for staff to pay their subscriptions direct to the union.

 

 A Representative stated that:

 

·                     75% of Unison members were women, and those on low incomes.  The measures contained in the bill would negatively impact the Unions’ ability to represent these members;

 

·                     unions generally used strike action as a last resort once all other avenues had been exhausted.  He added that there had been no strike action at Harrow Council in the past 10 years;

 

·                     under the proposed bill, if a union wished to call strike action, this would require an indicative ballot followed by a closed postal ballot process and a yes vote of 80%;

 

·                     loss of the current check-off facility would mean loss of income for unions as they would be obliged to devote additional staff and resources to administering this process.  The current method was inexpensive, efficient and generated a small amount of additional income for the Council.  He added that many other local authorities did not levy a charge for providing this service.

 

 

 

Members stated that:

 

·                     the bill would not help industrial relations in this country, which already had the worst trade union rights in Western Europe;

 

·                     in recent years there had been a 75% reduction in the number of employees going to employment tribunals due to the high fees involved;

 

·                     facility time availed to Unions was already subject to Freedom of Information requests, had been openly discussed at previous meetings of the Forum and was documented in the minutes of those meetings.  Local Authorities should be permitted to make local agreements regarding facility time and this should not be imposed nationally by central government;

 

·                     employees should continue to have access to check-off facilities because other payments made directly from employees’ salaries, for example, the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

RESOLVED ITEMS

15.

Part 1 of Annual Equality in Employment Monitoring Report (Data and Corporate Equalities Action Plan update) for 1 April 2014 - 31 March 2015 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Report of the Director of Human Resources and Organisation Development.

 

Minutes:

The Forum received the Annual Equality Monitoring report of the Director of Human Resources and Organisation Development, which set out data presented by protected characteristics and related to a range of employment matters.

 

Following a brief overview of the report, Members made the following comments:

 

·                     it was useful to see data regarding the Council’s workforce profile, however, it was difficult for Members to take a view on raw data presented without analysis or commentary.  In the future, it would be more helpful to consider the raw data and commentary together in a single combined report.  An officer undertook to ensure this would be done in the future;

 

·                     it was of concern that the ‘top table’ at the Council was currently composed of white, middle-aged men.  The Council’s senior management team should be more representative and should contain women and BME (black and minority ethnic) staff.

 

A Member raised a point of order in relation to comments made by another Member with regard to confidential and exempt information relating to a meeting of the Chief Officers’ Employment Panel.  The point of order was upheld by the Chair.

 

A Representative stated that it was important to capture data relating to employees’ disabilities, religion and sexual orientation in order to identify if there was any discrimination against these groups.  He also queried the accuracy of some of the data contained in the report, stating that the option ‘prefer not to say’ relating to sexual orientation had only be introduced in 2015, whereas this option had been included in the monitoring data for 2014.

 

An officer undertook to look into the above query from the Representative and made the following points:

 

·                     some data had been omitted from the report in order to maintain confidentiality, particularly where the number of responses had been low.  For example, if there were 3 dismissals under the capability process, where one of the employees had been identified as Zoroastrian, then this may reveal the individual’s identity;

 

·                     in completing the monitoring forms, staff may choose not to reveal a disability for different reasons, for example, they may not consider themselves to be disabled or the disability may not impact on the individual’s ability to do their job;

 

·                     the Council was taking action to encourage as many staff as possible to complete the monitoring forms as fully as possible.

 

A Member stated that the data showed a discrepancy between the pay grades of BME and white employees and this figure seemed to be more unequal at higher grades. It was important that this issue be fully investigated.  In the future, it would be useful have data regarding the relationship between conduct and capability procedures in relation to pay bands.

 

An officer advised that the report which would be submitted to the Forum in January 2016 would contain disability data according to departments.  The Council was working closely with the Harrow Association of Disabled People to provide disability awareness sessions for staff and working towards a culture change, so that staff would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.