BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Meeting 6 with the council. This is the council officers own description of where they are - back to the drawing board.
No progress. No decisions, no responses no proposals.
They are obsessed with process. Don’t get me wrong process is important but it’s chicken and egg. The decisions inform the process. We have provided “terms of reference » but these are not yet agreed. We are to be joined by a new officer, or even two. A project manager and someone from finance. But they haven’t yet sorted out what resources they are going to devote to the project, let alone settlement.
They seem to work on the basis that we’ve booked 12 months of meetings so we are going to use them all. If we’d booked 2 years of meetings I think they’d plan to use all of them too! The council officers have no urgency. If I’m being charitable I think the budget process is taking priority but that’s a false sense of priorities. It’s short term thinking all the time.
We have a psychology barrier to progress. The officers think they only lost on a technicality and still want us to “prove” who has been discriminated against. They also are afraid to take decisions unless there is certainty. They are afraid someone could come along and tell them they got it wrong and paid too much. They don’t seem to understand compromise at all. Unfortunately Susan Aitken says she has full confidence in these officers. It’s not a confidence I share.
Strangely the atmosphere at the meeting was better than meeting 5. And there was some progress in that threats of imposing solutions on us were withdrawn.
I should also say it’s not all bad. The council officers may be going back to the drawing board but the claimant team has not wasted these 10 weeks. We have, for the first time ever, been working as one group. Action4equality and both unions UNISON and GMB, ONE VOICE in front of the council. This has already paid dividends as the council has tried to split us, but so far without success.
We are also not waiting for the council. We are preparing to go back to tribunal if necessary and we have arranged a joint meeting of the barristers for all three claimant groups tomorrow. Again the first time ever.
I have said many times - this will be a long hard slog. It’s enormously frustrating but we need to be patient. FWIW I don’t think strike action is the right call yet.
Negotiations are not a linear process. It can be slog slog slog and then a tipping point happens. It’s impossible to predict when that might be, but I still have hope