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Wandsworth And Richmond Councils Threat To Staff

Monday, February 1, 2016

GMB To Ballot Members As Wandsworth And Richmond Councils Issue Statutory Notice To Terminate And Re-Engage 3,578 Staff

The issuing of these statutory notices is nothing short of an unnecessarily aggressive approach that does no more but alienate its staff says GMB.

GMB, the union for council workers, commented on the HR 1 notices from Wandsworth and Richmond councils issued to GMB with the threat to dismiss 3,578 staff across both councils to re-engage them on lower terms and conditions unless they agree to sign new changed contracts of employment by the end of October 2016. See notes to editors for copies of the letters from both councils sent to GMB.

Paul Grafton, GMB regional organiser, said “GMB will be undertaking a consultative ballot of our members in due course to ascertain what action they may wish to take as a result of the threat.

GMB is committed to negotiate a better deal for staff than one that is currently on the table but see the issuing of these statutory notices nothing short of an unnecessarily  aggressive approach that does no more but alienate its staff.”

End

Contact: Frank Minal 07713 079930 or Michelle Gordon 07866 369259 or 0208 397 8881 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251823

Notes to editors

1 Copy of letter from Richmond Council to GMB

To whom it may concern

This note accompanies an HR1 submitted on 27th January 2016 on behalf of London

Borough of Richmond upon Thames

PROPOSED CHANGES TO TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Following local negotiations which have been taking place since September 2015, the Council proposes to harmonise terms and conditions of employment for the majority of non-school based employees in the Council.

The proposed changes, subject to final negotiations, were originally laid out in the published Council July 2015 papers and after initial talks these have been amended to the details laid out in the all Staff Briefings held in the week commencing 11th January 2016 and the further discussions held today.

The proposed changes to the terms and conditions is driven by the decision to create a single staffing structure across both Wandsworth and Richmond Councils, which will require joint employment and harmonised terms and conditions. The context and more detailed reasons being laid out in the published Council papers.

The councils have been trying to effect those changes by way of collective agreement with recognised trade unions, but the Council has now reached the stage where it appears unlikely that this will be achievable. The Council will therefore need to look at seeking individual agreement with the employees affected to change their terms and conditions in order to achieve harmonisation through that route. We hope that staff will agree the new terms and that there will not be any need to dismiss any staff and offer them reengagement on the new terms. However, due to the number of employees affected by these proposals (i.e. more than 20), under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour

Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and the fact that dismissals to effect a change in terms and conditions are included within s188, we are consulting with appropriate representatives of the affected employees for a period of 45 days. This formal collective consultation period will apply starting on 27th January 2016.

Accordingly, we have set out the required information for s188 below but, given the general expectation that staff will agree to the new terms, please note that the numbers given are for all staff who would covered by the proposal to harmonise terms. The numbers do not reflect the numbers of staff who may ultimately be dismissed and offered re-engagement.

Information required

1. The intention is that staff will agree to the new terms and there will be no need for any dismissals with offers of re-engagement. However, should it become necessary to do so, the reason for those dismissals will be the Council's need to achieve harmonisation of terms and conditions in the context of the new Shared Service Arrangements.

2. If it were necessary to undertake them, the proposed dismissals would potentially affect the majority of non-school based employees in the Council; those affected being defined in our current negotiations, as indicated above. Richmond’s non-school based headcount is 996 excluding casuals, as you know some staff are scheduled to be TUPE’d out in the coming months and so these will be unaffected as will any staff retained but seconded to Achieving for Children. However, in reality any dismissals would only affect those who do not agree to the proposed new terms and conditions.

3. It is not proposed to apply any selection criteria. As explained above, any dismissal would only be where there are staff who do not wish to agree to the new harmonised terms and conditions.

4. If dismissals and offers of re-engagement are necessary, it would be following consultation with the individual staff concerned about ways to avoid the dismissal. It is our intention to continue with the consultations which have taken place since September, to seek a Collective Agreement. However if agreement cannot be reached the Council will consult with individual staff, asking them to agree individually to a change in their terms and conditions. In the event that staff are unwilling to agree voluntarily then the Council will dismiss any remaining staff and immediately offer to re-engage them on the new harmonised terms. In this event any notices will be in accordance with the employees’ employment contract or statutory notice (whichever is the greater). The Council would also hold staff meetings and individual discussions to explain the issues if this was to occur. In terms of likely timing of any such dismissals it is currently anticipated that these would be by end of October 2016.

5. As any dismissals would be as a result of the employees not accepting the new terms and conditions, the Council would not be paying any redundancy payments to such staff.

6. There are currently agency workers working temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of the council. The parts of the undertaking in which they are working, and the types of work they are carrying out will be supplied in due course

Please note that agency workers, working temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of the council will not be part of this process.

As previously stated this letter sets out the information that the Council is required to give you pursuant to s188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 in respect of our work towards a harmonised set of terms and conditions. The Council will continue to consult with you with a view to reaching agreement on the various proposals.

You should note that this letter isn’t intended to be notice, under s188, for redundancies created by proposed restructures which are likely to occur as a result of harmonisation proposals; a separate letter will be provided for this at a later date.

Please note that the Council is also obliged to submit an HR1 notification to the Government. I am sending a copy of this letter to the head office of each trade union recognised by the Council.

Please let me know if you have any queries.

Yours faithfully

2. Copy of letter from Wandsworth Council to GMB

To whom it may concern

This note accompanies an HR1 submitted on 27th January 2016 on behalf of London Borough of Wandsworth

PROPOSED CHANGES TO TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Following local negotiations which have been taking place since September 2015, the Council proposes to harmonise terms and conditions of employment for the majority of non-school based employees in the Council.

The proposed changes, subject to final negotiations, were originally laid out in the published Council July 2015 papers and after initial talks these have been amended to the details laid out in the all Staff Briefings held in the week commencing 11th January 2016 and the further discussions held today.

The proposed changes to the terms and conditions is driven by the decision to create a single staffing structure across both Wandsworth and Richmond Councils, which will require joint employment and harmonised terms and conditions. The context and more detailed reasons being laid out in the published Council papers.

The councils have been trying to effect those changes by way of collective agreement with recognised trade unions, but the Council has now reached the stage where it appears unlikely that this will be achievable. The Council will therefore need to look at seeking individual agreement with the employees affected to change their terms and conditions in order to achieve harmonisation through that route. We hope that staff will agree the new terms and that there will not be any need to dismiss any staff and offer them reengagement on the new terms. However, due to the number of employees affected by these proposals (i.e. more than 20), under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and the fact that dismissals to effect a change in terms and conditions are included within s188, we are consulting with appropriate representatives of the affected employees for a period of 45 days. This formal collective consultation period will apply starting on 27th January 2016.

Accordingly, we have set out the required information for s188 below but, given the general expectation that staff will agree to the new terms, please note that the numbers given are for all staff who would covered by the proposal to harmonise terms. The numbers do not reflect the numbers of staff who may ultimately be dismissed and offered re-engagement.

Information required

1. The intention is that staff will agree to the new terms and there will be no need for any dismissals with offers of re-engagement. However, should it become necessary to do so, the reason for those dismissals will be the Council's need to achieve harmonisation of terms and conditions in the context of the new Shared Service Arrangements.

2. If it were necessary to undertake them, the proposed dismissals would potentially affect the majority of non-school based employees in the Council; those affected being defined in our current negotiations, as indicated above. Wandsworth’s non-school based headcount as at 31 December 2015 was 2582 excluding casuals, as you know some staff are scheduled to be TUPE’d out in the coming months and so these will be unaffected as will any staff employed under the Operational Services Memorandum of Agreement and in all likelihood retained staff seconded to 4 Children or Enable. However, in reality any dismissals would only affect those who do not agree to the proposed new terms and conditions.

3. It is not proposed to apply any selection criteria. As explained above, any dismissal would only be where there are staff who do not wish to agree to the new harmonised terms and conditions.

4. If dismissals and offers of re-engagement are necessary, it would be following consultation with the individual staff concerned about ways to avoid the dismissal. It is our intention to continue with the consultations which have taken place since September, to seek a Collective Agreement. However if agreement cannot be reached the Council will consult with individual staff, asking them to agree individually to a change in their terms and conditions. In the event that staff are unwilling to agree voluntarily then the Council will dismiss any remaining staff and immediately offer to re-engage them on the new harmonised terms. In this event any notices will be in accordance with the employees’ employment contract or statutory notice (whichever is the greater). The Council would also hold staff meetings and individual discussions to explain the issues if this was to occur. In terms of likely timing of any such dismissals it is currently anticipated that these would be by end of October 2016.

5. As any dismissals would be as a result of the employees not accepting the new terms and conditions, the Council would not be paying any redundancy payments to such staff.

6. There are currently agency workers working temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of the council . The parts of the undertaking in which they are working, and the types of work they are carrying out will be supplied in due course

Please note that agency workers, working temporarily for and under the supervision and direction of the council will not be part of this process.

As previously stated this letter sets out the information that the Council is required to give you pursuant to s188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 in respect of our work towards a harmonised set of terms and conditions. The Council will continue to consult with you with a view to reaching agreement on the various proposals.

You should note that this letter isn’t intended to be notice, under s188, for redundancies created by proposed restructures which are likely to occur as a result of harmonisation proposals; a separate letter will be provided for this at a later date.

Please note that the Council is also obliged to submit an HR1 notification to the Government. I am sending a copy of this letter to the head office of each trade union recognised by the Council.

Please let me know if you have any queries.

Yours faithfully

Catherine Parsons

Acting Head of HR

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