Trade Union Bill

Written evidence submitted by Derbyshire County Council (TUB 60)

Derbyshire County Council supports recognised trade union membership and the principle of joint consultation / negotiation and collective bargaining. The Council recognises the importance of effective engagement with the workforce (36,000 - appointments – 16,000 excluding schools) and acknowledges the contribution that this has made to the effective working of the Council during a very difficult 5 year period of austerity and financial constraints targeted at the public sector. The Council is conscious that a challenging employee relations agenda including; substantial budget cuts and staff reductions, zero national pay awards, single status implementation (including introduction of job evaluation and the standardisation of terms and conditions), equal pay claims, the Government’s Academisation programme, etc, have been managed / resolved without major industrial relations complications or action. The Council is also conscious that it incurs relatively low levels of collective grievance and disputes that is of benefit to the maintenance of high quality, effective and essential services and avoids unnecessary distraction.

The Council is therefore of the view that the measures proposed within the current Bill are not justified or proportionate to the issues they are designed to address. In managing responses to the very occasional occurrences of national strike action the Council has not had cause to engage agencies to cover essential services (exemptions being locally agreed with the trade unions) and is conscious that picket lines have been managed in a peaceful and respectful manner with no significant incidents being reported.

The Council feels that the current levels of paid time-off for TU stewards which equate to less than £1 per month per appointment across the workforce do represent a cost effective investment in the Authority’s employee relations machinery and have proved invaluable in managing the relationship between employer and employee and have enabled collaborative working.

On the question of TU membership check-off the Council does currently operate a deductions at source (DOCAS) membership system on behalf of the recognised TU’s on the basis of a 2.5% commission of subscription values collected. The very limited interventions required to administer the system mean that in the very worst case it is a cost neutral exercise for the Council. The system also serves to further engender positive relationships between the Council and TU’s, making it relatively easy for employees to join one of the recognised TU’s which is encouraged and viewed to be of general benefit.

October 2015

Prepared 28th October 2015