Headlines: June 17th, 2003

The Government has accepted new proposals setting out a fast and cost-effective procedure for settling disputes in local government over two-tier workforce issues. The Local Government Minister, Nick Raynsford, welcomed the joint proposal from authorities, trade unions and contractors designed to resolve disputes arising under the Code of Practice on workforce matters in local authority service contracts.He said the proposals met the government’s two commitments that the Code should be effective in securing fair treatment for all staff in local public services and that it should retain the flexibility necessary to improve the quality of those services. He has now asked all the parties involved to take the ideas forward in a way that will meet the criteria for a fast, efficient and cost-effective procedure which can be invoked after normal local procedures have been exhausted.

The proposals have been drawn up jointly by the Local Government Association, the TUC and the CBI.

The Code was originally published in March by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as part of statutory Best Value guidance. It applies in cases where a council transfers staff to an outside company as part of a contract to provide a local public service. Under the Code, new staff will be offered terms and conditions which are no less favourable than those of workers transferred by councils. They will also be offered reasonable pension provision.

Mr. Raynsford said, “We should all work towards resolving disagreements at the earliest possible stage. The existence of this clear and conclusive procedure should act as a spur to all sides to discuss and resolve matters before it needs to be invoked.”