As you will know although we’ve now had 18 meetings with the council we haven’t had a single negotiating meeting. Indeed we haven’t discussed a single relevant issue despite the claimant group presenting a full set of numbers (not plucked from the air ) and even an offer. All ignored by GCC.
At meeting 16 they even told us they would no longer discuss anything until November when they would present us with a number. Our reaction was to seek a meeting with the Leader, which happened last week and was equally disappointing as she affirmed her faith in the officers and ‘the process’.
This meant that meeting 19, next Tuesday, was going to be a formality and I wasn’t going to go.
However, today there has been a breakthrough, of sorts. They have informed us that they will for the first time be willing to discuss comparators. This is, as usual, a mix of good news and bad news.
The good news:
1. Its a start
2 it’s the most important issue
3 it means we don’t have to waste 2 months in pointless meetings
4 it means we will have a better idea of disputes before ET on 25th September
5 it might mean there are less disputes (might) inside and outside the ET
6 it makes their December deadline a little more achievable (but don’t hold your breath)
1. They’ve insisted everything they say remain secret (so we can’t tell you what they agree or disagree)
2. They’re calling it a presentation not negotiating
3. They’ve indicated they’re rejecting our proposed comparators
4. This means a breakdown is more likely- so like brexit “no deal” is more likely than a deal
5 this means they are more likely to restart the legal challenge in the ET
6. It still seems (to me anyway) that they are more interested in what a comparator would cost rather than whether it’s right.
However, none of the bad news is a surprise. It’s what I expected. I think the next few meetings are going to be very difficult but THE GOOD NEWS OUTWEIGHS THE BAD NEWS. Why? Because bottom line is: talking is better than not talking. We still aren’t negotiating but we are one step nearer negotiating than we were yesterday.
I’m sorry that their insistence on secrecy means I probably won’t be able to say much after Tuesday but it still means Tuesday won’t be as pointless as expected.
I know it doesn’t seem like it from the outside but, on the claimant side at least, there is a staggering amount of work going on behind the scenes. Progress is far too slow but inch by inch we are making progress.
Stefan Cross

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