MARITIME AND COASTGUARD AGENCY
Since the last Sub-Committee report on the Maritime
and Coastguard Agency, the trade union side has noticed an improvement
in consultation in certain areas between senior managers and ourselves.
However, this has not extended to the whole of the agency as the
agency has recently made the post of Regional Inspector for Western
Scotland and Northern Ireland redundant. This was without any
prior consultation with the trade unions whatsoever, and it was
in breach of their own redundancy agreement. Also, the promised
period of stability given by the Deputy Prime Minister, after
the last Sub-Committees report and the recommendations contained
in the report by Lord Donaldson on the "Focus for Change"
review have been ignored in a number of cases.
Existing disciplinary procedures, as the Maritime
and Coastguard Agency have admitted, do not comply with the ACAS
Code of Practice, in spite of the fact that DETR are urging all
Agencies to ensure their procedures do comply. There have been
cases where they have not even followed the disciplinary procedures
in the DoT staff handbook. This can mean that employees do not
receive a fair hearing and justice is not seen to be done as required
under Employment legislation, or the Human Rights Act.
In Maritime and Coastguard Agency Headquarters,
staff are complaining that workloads are excessive and they are
under pressure to follow what they consider to be rigidly bureaucratic
procedures to do with Quality Management Assurance. Staffing levels
at Coastguard stations are inadequate, at times the numbers and
more importantly, the grade of staff on duty do not even follow
the recommended levels laid down by the agency. Often this means
that the level of expertise on duty is insufficient and too much
reliance is placed upon the manager of the watch to carry out
a risk assessment. This risk assessment is often not adequate
or sufficient and the manager(s) concerned have not had the necessary
training, but for an easy life and to stop adverse comments appearing
on their annual staff appraisal, they go along with what their
senior managers want. We have agreed with the agency that a review
of staffing levels is urgently required to put a stop to this
practice and to ensure adequate staffing at all times. This places
additional stress upon the workforce at what are often busy stations
leading to increases in sick absencefar higher than the
levels in comparable departments and agencies in the Civil Service.