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Herefordshire Council and UNISON joint statement

Herefordshire Council and UNISON representatives have a good track record of working together to jointly address issues and have met on a number of occasions in the last two to three weeks, to discuss specifically the current council proposals which would affect jobs and terms and conditions.

These discussions have been entered into with a view to reaching a collective agreement with UNISON.  Running alongside this, the chief executive and senior management team has also met with around 500 staff in a series of interactive meetings and considered staff feedback through other ways set up to capture their views.  The nature of the conversations and feedback during all of these sessions has been very constructive.

This has enabled a joint announcement from Herefordshire Council and UNISON that the basis for a collective agreement has been reached.  The proposed collective agreement reflects all these discussions.
The collective agreement would change the current proposals as follows:
1) The proposed three days of unpaid leave is changed to two days of unpaid leave, both to be taken on Herefordshire Council determined dates in the Christmas period for the majority of staff.  For some staff who work during the Christmas period, these two days of unpaid leave will be taken on different dates to be agreed within their service.

2) The proposed introduction of statutory terms of redundancy only, to be changed to statutory terms of redundancy times an enhanced 1.5 multiplier.

3) The proposed job reductions to be the focus of a joint review with UNISON to consider how these reductions may be mitigated within the budget available.

4) Whilst UNISON’s preferred option would be to keep current in house provision in house, UNISON will work with Herefordshire Council, with the view to engaging fully in consideration of alternative business models that may be required in areas of service, where the council has to reduce or withdraw funding.  The aim will be to work with the council to support consideration of the viability of alternative models, engaging appropriately with local community or staff groups.

5) Building on the existing staff ideas scheme, all staff will be encouraged to bring forward through their trade union, professional association or individually, considered and well-structured ideas for reducing costs, improving performance within budget, income generation, maintaining customer focus and in approaches towards greater efficiency with the aim of minimising compulsory redundancies.

6) UNISON and wider trade union representatives will continue to meet with council senior management at regular intervals, but with a revised focus on developing approaches that reduces the council’s costs which minimise staff reductions.

7) Working in an ‘open book’ approach to the sharing of financial and workforce information for example, turnover, with staff and trade unions to assist in the objectives outlined above.

The proposed implementation date has been moved to 10 June 2013, to allow time for further consultation by UNISON and wider trade unions with staff on the revised proposals.

Alistair Neill      
Chief executive Herefordshire Council  

Steve Akers
UNISON West Midlands