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

Items
No. Item

24.

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 David Perry

Councillor Sachin Shah

Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick

 

25.

Appointment of Chair & Vice Chair

To appoint a Chair from the employees’ side and a vice Chair from the Council side for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That Gary Martin (Unison) be appointed as the Chair of the Forum, and Councillor Kiran Ramchandani as the Vice-Chair, for the 2016-17 Municipal Year.

26.

Appointment of Employees' Side Representatives

To note the appointment of new representatives from the teachers’ constituency.

Minutes:

The Forum noted the appointment of Louise Crimmins as the National Union of Teachers representative, and of Anne Lyons as the representative of the National Union of Headteachers. 

27.

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:

Agenda Items 10, 11 and 12 - Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre and Trade Union Facility Time

 

Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick declared a non-pecuniary interest in these items 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.

 

Agenda Items 9, 10, 11 and 12 - Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre and Trade Union Facility Time

 

Councillor David Perry declared non-pecuniary interests in these items in that he had been the Leader of the Council at the time of decisions on the future of the Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre, and he was a trade union member.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Agenda Items 10, 11 and 12 - Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre and Trade Union Facility Time

 

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

 

Agenda Items 11 - Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre

 

Councillor Paul Osborn declared a non-pecuniary interest in these items in that he had been a Cabinet Member at the time of the issuing of a number of the documents submitted by the Trade Union side in respect of Agenda Item 11.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

28.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 59 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 23 February 2016 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

Mr Butterfield considered that Minute 22 did not adequately reflect the concerns of the trade union side and was disappointed that there had been no formal recommendation, simply the Chair “urging” officers to take appropriate action.  

 

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 23 February 2016 be taken as read and signed as a correct record. 

29.

Public Questions, Deputations and Petitions

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, deputations or petitions were received at this meeting.

RESOLVED ITEMS

30.

Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Report from the Harrow Unison LG Branch.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a submission by the Harrow Unison Branch on the Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre (Agenda Item 9) and a report of the Corporate Director, People Services, on the same matter (Agenda Item 10).

 

A representative from the Employees’ Side considered that the report of the Corporate Director, People Services did not adequately reflect the concerns of the trade unions in relation to the many months of uncertainty caused by the changing information of the status of the employees involved, including lack of clarity on the redundancy position and the application of TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings/Protection of Employment rules).  It was suggested that the Director should issue an apology to the staff affected by these uncertainties and delays.  The Head of Safeguarding Assurance & Quality Services referred to the proposal for a joint project between the Adults and Commercial Departments which would both continue support services to service users at Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre and bring income to the Council through commercial uses.

 

The Director, Adult Social Services confirmed that officers had worked over a number of months to develop new approaches as a way of trying to avoid  closures, including joint work with the voluntary sector; efforts had been made to brief the trade unions and relevant Members along the way.  She stated that, if any of the staff involved had felt distressed by the process, then she, as the responsible Director, was prepared to apologise.   She explained that there had, of course, been communication with the staff as the proposals developed, but she would write to them in formal confirmation. 

 

John Noblemunn, the Unison Regional Officer, expressed his appreciation for the Director’s apology and his satisfaction that there now appeared to be a workable solution to a matter which had, at one stage, appeared to be developing into a dispute situation. 

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

31.

Trade Union Facility Time

Report of the Corporate Director, Resources and Commercial.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Employees’ Side on the issue of trade union facility time (Agenda Item 11) and a report of the Corporate Director, Resources and Commercial, on the same matter (Agenda Item 12).

 

One of the representatives of the Employees’ Side argued that the Council’s current proposals could be said to amount to indirect discrimination against Unison since they would impact disproportionately on those union members given their numbers compared to the other unions.  He also referred to the “Risk Management Implications” paragraph on Page 5 of the report of the Director, Resources and Commercial and suggested it envisaged “de-recognition” of trade unions by the Council. 

 

Councillor Ramchandani wished to make it clear that the Administration at the Council were committed to working with the trade unions, would never derecognise a union and importantly, had no intention of removing any facility time at all as part of the current discussions.  She explained that, with the appointment of a new director for HR issues, the opportunity had been taken to review a number of policies and procedures, and that this included reconsideration about whether the current facility time arrangements were effective and equitable. 

 

The Head of People and Organisational Development spoke the recognition agreement and wished to underline that the discussions on facility time were entirely separate to these.  Also, these discussions had, to date, been completely informal and no formal proposals had been advanced; the Council had no intention to reduce facility time, simply to review arrangements and determine whether they remained fit for purpose and fair to the different unions involved.

 

The GMB representative explained that she had raised the question of facility time with the Council since the GMB was not satisfied with its allocation of only 2.5 days.

 

A Member considered it puzzling that the report of the Corporate Director, Resources and Commercial referred to a need to clarify existing provisions of the facility time policy.  The Head of People and Organisational Development reported that the arrangements had become complicated and it was considered appropriate to carry out an audit/review to provide a firmer base for the way forward.

 

The Forum discussed the circumstances which had led to the current position and there was general concern that misunderstandings and a sense of mistrust had somehow developed when, in fact, there had been no particular proposals put forward for consideration.  A Member spoke from her experience as a union shop steward and confirmed that the number of members in the different unions had always been an important factor in allocating facility time; she also acknowledged the need for fair treatment of the different unions.  The Unison Regional Officer suggested that full-time union officers should have been involved in the discussions at an earlier stage.

 

The Head of People and Organisational Development apologised that concerns had been allowed to develop.  She explained that she had offered a written proposal and a discussion at the Corporate Joint Committee, but the matter had instead been placed of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Employee Data Equalities Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 861 KB

Report of the Head of People and Organisation Development.

Minutes:

The Committee considered an information item from the Head of People and Organisational Development which set out the Annual Monitoring Report on Equality in Employment for 2015-16. 

 

An officer outlined the key aspects of the report.  She highlighted the low levels of responses to certain questions which made it difficult to draw reliable conclusions, and referred to the efforts to try to encourage more staff engagement in the survey by underlining the reasons for asking such questions and the reassurances about confidentiality.  The Council had concerns about the fact that the proportion of BME staff in senior positions had remained static in the year in question, the low number of staff with disabilities and the lower than average retention rates for younger staff. 

A representative of the Employees’ Side asked about data about staff groups involved in disciplinaries or capability procedures; for example, he was concerned that BME staff were disproportionately represented in such cases.  It was explained that, while  some data was available, there were a number of cases where HR intervention was not required and the local management information was not collated centrally.  The Head of People and Organisational Development agreed that this should be monitored and discussed at the Corporate Joint Committee. 

 

With respect to staff with disabilities, an officer agreed to investigate the area of “Managing for Change” redundancies and medical redeployments.

 

A Member suggested that the lower levels of BME, disabled and women staff in senior posts could be attributed in part to the ring-fencing of restructuring processes which had the effect limiting the pool of staff considered for newly-created posts.  The Head of People and Organisational Development confirmed that there was always a tension between managing restructurings to minimise redundancies and the wider policy objectives of changing the profile of senior staff.  It was suggested that the Forum could usefully discuss at a future meeting possible ways of making the senior managers more representative of the communities in the Borough.

 

A Member proposed that exit interviews should be held on a more structured basis and particularly for younger people, so that the Council could better understand the reasons they moved to other opportunities. 

 

The Head of People and Organisational Development acknowledged the problem of providing online HR support, including the SAP system, to staff without ready access to computers at work.  She also supported a suggestion by a Member that the question of hidden disabilities be addressed in the proposed joint work with Harrow Association for the Disabled. 

 

A representative of the Employees’ Side asked for a comparison of the reduction in the number of staff in Pay Band 6 compared to those in other pay bands.  He was concerned that the number of these staff was not reducing proportionately and that restructurings at that level sometimes led to staff even receiving higher grades for apparent reductions in levels of responsibility.  The Head of People and Organisational Development agreed to analyse these figures. 

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

33.

Terms of Reference for the Corporate Joint Committee pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Report of the Head of People and Organisation Development.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Head of People and Organisational Development concerning proposed changes to the terms of reference of the Corporate Joint Committee.  A representative of the Employees’ Side suggested that these changes be referred to the Corporate Joint Committee for discussion.

 

RESOLVED:  That the proposed changes to the terms of reference of the Corporate Joint Committee, as set out in the report, be referred to that Committee for discussion and that they be noted. 

34.

Date of Next Meeting

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Forum would be held on Thursday, 26 January 2017 at 7.30 pm.