Contractual Rights

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2014 Local Government Service Group Conference
13 February 2014
Carried as Amended

Conference views with alarm the increasing undermining of the employment law framework protecting members across the Service Group. Over half a million workers in local government and schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland alone earn below the Living Wage and many of these are employed on contracts with very few protected rights. We have seen:

1)Sub-contracting creating longer supply chains where enforcement of rights becomes more complex.

2)The use of dismissal and re-engagement to cut hard fought the National Joint Council (NJC) and the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) terms and conditions of employment.

3)Payment of wages below those of the National Minimum Wage.

4)Offsetting wages by requirements on workers to to provide their own equipment and materials.

5)Failure to provide a safe environment in which to work, free from stress, bullying and hazards.

6)Reductions in Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) protection.

7)Extension of the use of zero hours contracts.

8)Undermining of the rights of agency workers by employing the Swedish derogation of transferring employment from the principal employer to the agency, thus depriving them of the right to equal treatment with a comparable permanent worker.

Many of these are the result of government action, privatisation and cuts in inspectorates policing the National Minimum Wage and health and safety. Nevertheless, we call upon the NJC and SJC Employers and individual councils to ensure their policies and practices and those of contractors do not remove these basic rights, but improve on them. They should set nationally agreed standards for the employment rights of local government workers both for local authorities and for contractors including:

a)Promoting recognition agreements which provide for collective bargaining and encourage trade union membership.

b)Payment of the living wage by contractors as well as councils.

c)Strengthening continuous employment provisions for those contracted out of local government employment.

d)Undertaking needs assessments of the training and development needs of workers.

e)Promotion cohesion and integration in the workplace.

f)Promoting staff awareness of core employment and human rights and the relevant enforcement agencies.

g)Training for contracting staff in using procurement as a mechanism to ensure employment and human rights enforcement.

h)Provision of interpreters where required.

We also call upon a future Labour government to reverse the hostile anti-trade union and worker measures of the Coalition and restore more security in the workplace, improved contractual rights, proper policing of minimum legislative standards, the removal of fees for tribunal claims, restoration of full TUPE protection and a new ‘two-tier’ code to protect new starters on outsourced contracts.