- General Principles
Suffolk County Council (“the Council”) Labour Group (“the Group”) will work with all the recognised trade unions which represent members of staff employed by the Council (“the unions”), to safeguard and deliver quality public services for the residents of Suffolk (“the County”). The Group will be mindful of the contribution of the Council’s staff not only to the services of the Council but also to the economic and community life of the County.
- Good Industrial Relations
The Group will develop open and friendly dialogue with the unions, and will maintain such dialogue when both in opposition and in administration. When in administration the Group will avoid the use of aggressive mechanisms where consultation and cooperation are available. The Group in opposition will use its best endeavours to improve the existing consultation structures, and when in administration will work with the unions to design structures which best meet the needs of the unions, the Council’s staff, and the County as a whole.
The Group will defend the use of facility time and will encourage the membership and engagement of staff in their trade unions. When in administration the Group will work with existing union branches to improve the representation for staff in divested organisations. The Group will also cooperate with trade unions in seeking to set up “one stop shops” to enable staff to easily access their relevant trade union.
- Jobs and Employment
The Group will work with the unions to promote greater employment opportunities for local people, for young people, for people meeting any of the “Protected Characteristics” as defined in the Equalities Act, and for the long-term unemployed. The Group remains committed to promoting and developing apprenticeships, to maintaining a clear policy of additionality for apprenticeships, and to promoting a reasonable level of pay for apprentices.
- Employment Practices
The Group is committed to promoting:
Security of employment
• High quality employment procedures and practices
• The Living Wage as defined by the Rowntree Foundation
• Equal pay
• Appropriate National Agreements
The Group is committed to phasing out Zero Hours contracts amongst both directly employed and contracted staff, other than for specific instances agreed by the Group, the unions and the staff involved (eg Governing Body clerks).
The Group in administration will seek to minimise the use of agency workers.
- Living Wage
When in administration, the Group will maintain the Living Wage as the pay minimum for directly employed staff, and will work towards establishing it as the minimum for all staff working in contracted out services. The Group will seek to remove differential terms and conditions between directly employed and contracted out staff, and will ensure that the Council’s new contracts specify equal terms and conditions with directly employed staff. The Group will lead the Council to become an accredited Living Wage Employer.
- Directly Delivered Services
In opposition, the Group will campaign to retain the Council’s services in-house wherever cogent reasons can be found for doing so.
In administration, the Group will strive to retain services in-house.
- Contracting Out Services
In administration, the Group will ensure that the Council undertakes service reviews prior to any decision to embark on a procurement exercise. The Group is committed to full consultation and engagement with the unions throughout any review process and will provide access to all relevant documentation.
Where a decision is due to be taken to proceed to contract out any service, the Group will outline the rationale and assumptions used and agree to fully consult and involve the unions throughout the process. The Group will ensure that any criteria for the contract include a clear commitment to work with trade unions, to honour existing terms and conditions, to maintain pay equality with directly-employed staff, and to follow national collective agreements.
The Group will ensure the Council carries out a full Equality Impact Assessment before any contract is signed, and puts in place effective monitoring arrangements throughout the term of the contract.
Where any new contract is proposed, or any existing contract is due for renewal or re-tendering, the Group in administration will seek to retain the service in-house, or to return it to direct delivery, wherever it is practical to do so.
- Commissioning New Services
The Group will seek to ensure that the Council specifies good employment practices, as carried out by the Council, for any contractor providing services to the Council.
- Policy Development
The Group recognises the important role the unions play in the political life of the County, and will seek to explore policy ideas outside of employment issues with the unions.
The Group will campaign for the defence & improvement of public services in the County, and will work with the unions to do so wherever possible.
Labour Group Leader, Suffolk County Council
Felicity Larter & Jean Thomas
Joint Secretaries, Suffolk Unison