We have more member meetings planned for the week of 15-19 July. UNISON is in regular dialogue with John Readman and Kim Curry, so it is important we meet face-to-face with members to inform those discussions.
- Monday 15 July: Bognor, 12.00-1.00pm, Conference Room 2
- Tuesday 16 July: Crawley, 12.00-1.00pm, Bill Buck Room (Library)
- Thursday 18 July: Horsham, 1.00-2.00pm, Main Conference Room
- Friday 19 July: Worthing, 1.00-2.00pm, Conference Room 4
Retention payments and issues arising
UNISON Officers and CS reps met with John Readman and Kim Curry on Tuesday 11 June. We raised a number of points and elicited responses as per below:
- That the way the information on retention payments was rushed out, without dialogue with UNISON, demonstrated the persistence of a crisis management culture;
- That work/life balance issues are just as important to staff and UNISON wishes to see a ‘Wellbeing’ strand to the Improvement Plan;
- That CS incremental progression being linked to performance in April 2020 is fundamentally unfair and should be reviewed given the circumstances;
- That NQSWs should be able to signup to the retention offer now, and not have to wait until September, though we accepted that payment would be made in September after completion of the AYSE year;
- That it was wrong to change the conditions of the retention payments after most staff will have signed up to it, in respect of what is owed and over what period if you voluntarily reduce your hours;
- That there must also be a focus on non-SW qualified staff and efforts to retain them. We raised the prospect of career pathways for CFWs from Grade 7, through 8 and 9. We raised the issue of Family Aides and their moving to CFW roles. We raised the prospect of increase apprenticeship and in-house social work training, where retention rates are proved to be exceptionally high;
- We requested consideration to individual repayment plans being negotiated, when staff have to leave through unexpected circumstances, rather than staff being placed in a dangerous position of having no wages at all in their last 3 months of employment;
- We raised issues of the lack of parking permits for some new staff in Horsham and asked this be resolved;
- We were told that staff not signing up to Retention payments could be stripped of their free parking and argued strongly that this should not happen and would worsen retention rates;
- We asked for the details of the £10,000 loan scheme to be communicated as quickly as possible, given the interest in this;
- We asked that staff not signing up for the payments not be quizzed in a personal and intrusive way as to why they were not, but for management to consider a survey instead;
- We received clarity that staff with ‘sanctions’ arising from the sickness procedure would not be penalised and were eligible for retention payments – because of course there are no sanctions for staff who are sick, despite what the initial scheme guidance said;
- We welcomed the U-turn that changes to contractual notice would only be temporary and asked for meaningful dialogue with UNISON to ensure that the scheme and further iterations of it can be consistently communicated in future.
Any members with individual questions or concerns related to the above are encouraged to contact the UNISON office.
Improvement plan and other issues
This document authored by John Readman for a Health & Wellbeing Board meeting on 20th June gives a useful summary of the current position.
A next round of meetings for staff is being established by management for mid-July. We requested that staff be given more notice of meetings, that they be spread over a longer period and that they be filmed and uploaded for later viewing where possible.
We have highlighted our concerns about a number of informal performance procedures which have started with CS social workers. We have asked HR to take a strategic oversight of these to ensure the processes are followed correctly and fairly.
Please come to one of our member meetings, above, and encourage your colleagues to do likewise and join the union if they are not already members. We are also seeking reps from all teams in CS impacted by the Ofsted judgement.