|Below is the report from our lobby of the Council|
following our submission of the petition to the October Council meeting.
Mike Calvert and Jane Doolan report
Islington UNISON makes the front page of the Islington Tribune this week (Friday 11th October 2013).
As the Council installs the new leader (Richard Watts) of Islington Council, Islington UNISON was in attendance to lobby the Council in regard to the obscene amounts of money being spent on agency staff and consultants whilst still making redundancies.
UNISON presented a petition to the Council signed by over 170 people, when 5 is the requirement, such is the utter outrage of this "waste". Mike Calvert (Deputy Branch Secretary) was allowed two minutes to speak to the petition on the floor of the Council Chambers. In September UNISON learned that Islington Council were spending huge amounts of money on agency staff and consultants. However, our members are telling us on a daily basis of the struggles they face in work, often working through their lunch-breaks or doing unpaid overtime.
So successful was the petition over the lobby that the first meeting that Councillor Watts undertook, as leader of the Council, was to meet with Jane Doolan (Branch Secretary) and Mike Calvert (Deputy Branch Secretary).
The lobby and petition were supported by the G.M.B. and we requested that the invitation be extended to our comrades as well.
The resulting meeting, which was held on Friday 11th October, was productive but it is clear that we have to keep-an-eye on the situation. Jane Doolan (Branch Secretary) told the Chief Executive (Lesley Seary) and Council leader (Richard Watts) "unlike previous lobbies, which were against cuts imposed by central Government, this lobby was about TRUST or rather THE LACK OF IT.
Jane Doolan went on to say "being vague about the amounts of money being spent on agency staff and consultants and about allegations that in some service areas Managers are bringing-in "friends-of friends" she described what was going on as reminiscent of the 1970's. It's not what you know but who you know and "the old boy's network".
Mike Calvert and Jane Doolan pointed out that Islington can have the best policies available but if managers are not willing to make them work then they are useless. Both the Chief Executive and the leader of the Council agreed and will be issuing instructions, particularly in relation to redeployees where everything should be done to ensure that if a redeployee wants to stay in the Organisation then all efforts are made to that end.
Redeployees often find that obstacles are put in their way sometimes just some training ensures a redeployee alternative employment. This will now be "looked-into"
The Chief Executive also said "she would be questioning Directorates about the use of agency staff and why they are employed? and the length of employment?
The Chief Executive also agreed that redeployees should be considered over-and-above recruiting agency staff to cover workloads. This was on the understanding that redeployees understood that this was NOT a permanent position .This not only ensures that redeployees have an opportunity to extend their employment but they still have the opportunity to seek work both inside and outside the organisation
Councillor Andrew Hull will be requested to investigate the implications of agency costs as it was clear that there was a huge discrepancy in issued documentation. One paper said "8 Million" yet another said "23 Million". We have been assured that there will be greater transparency both in terms of using agency workers, but also consultants.
It was agreed that reports would be shared with the Trade Unions on a quarterly basis at Joint Secretaries. These reports will be for Leavers, Starters, Numbers of agency staff, Redeployees, Number of redundancies. Members have requested equalities information when we get this information.
Directors will be instructed to set-up quarterly meetings with the Trade Unions. This will not replace any existing staff-side structures e.g. Public Protection and Libraries but they will be in addition to these meetings. Also meetings with the Leader/Chief Executive and/or Andrew Hull will be scheduled on a regular basis.