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Newry and Mourne City and District Council

Newry and Mourne City and District Council

Newry and Mourne City and District Council

In July 2012 the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) was approached by Newry and Mourne City and District Council with a view to facilitating a joint bargaining process with its trade unions to produce multiple revised employment relations procedures and protocols for operation within the council in a RPA context.

In August 2012 the Labour Relations Agency met with the senior management team of the Council and the lead local representatives of the recognised unions SIPTU, NIPSA, GMB and UNITE. At this meeting the original terms of reference for the facilitated bargaining were agreed. It was further agreed that these may be subject to change as the process developed.

The LRA then agreed a sequence of meetings across a seven month timescale to address the detail of the revised procedures/protocols on an agreed basis of priority.

In each case the Council provided an initial draft of each new protocol and this was issued to the trade union side and the LRA at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting to deal with that given procedure/protocol.

At the following facilitated bargaining meeting the LRA officer chaired the meeting, made good practice suggestions for amendments to the first draft, agreed alternative forms of words to meet issues raised by the trades union side and defined and navigated through areas of more fundamental differences between the parties.

The LRA officer then made the amendments to the procedure/protocol and returned the new agreed version to the parties who ratified it at the next joint meeting before proceeding to the next procedure/protocol.

In all, eight facilitated bargaining meetings were required across a nine month period of work (August 2012 – May 2013).

The process finalised seven new employment relations procedures/protocols for use in the RPA context. These were;
(a) mediation (resolution) procedure,
(b) disciplinary procedure
(c) grievance procedure
(d) employment stability procedure
(e) redundancy avoidance procedure
(f) capability procedure
(g) appropriate dispute resolution charter

Both parties agreed that this had been the most proficient and engaged employment relations procedure that they had been involved with in the Council. Both felt that to produce seven detailed (sometimes contentious) procedures/protocols in a condensed nine month period had exceeded their expectation of the process.

The entire process was concluded by a formal letter from the LRA to the parties containing final version copies of all seven procedures/protocols in one in-house style and commending their formal adoption to the parties.

 

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