LOOKING THEM IN THE EYE
As you know we had our first meeting with the council yesterday and once again it proves that negotiations are always different when you actually get into the same room with the other side. You can learn a lot just by peoples attitude and body language in addition to what is actually said on the subject of the discussions.
Although I was disappointed that Susan Aitken has taken the decision to have a back seat in the negotiations, she was at least honest and clear and open with us. I also believe that she was genuine in her desire to see a resolution to these cases.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the officers. My impression was that there was still a concern on their part in protecting their reputations and decisions they were involved in in the past rather than looking forward and do what’s best for the council and the staff. They also appear to still have a completely different view of the effect of the Court of session decisions and its implications to us. This is potentially a major stumbling block.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the approach to WPBR. Our view is that it should be scrapped and a new pay structure implemented as soon as possible. This will draw a line under the scheme and the litigation and enable everybody to move forward. Unfortunately the officers seem to think that this will be an admission they got it wrong and their approach is to simply try and find fixes to the scheme to enable it to continue but with some minor modifications.
Despite all the litigation they still can’t see what’s wrong with the scheme! They have asked us to prepare a paper setting out what’s wrong with it! We will do this but it shouldn’t be necessary and is going to cause delay.
In any event doesn’t matter if we are right, what matters is what this reveals about the officers attitude. Rather than fresh eyes and a fresh approach it’s a desire to preserve the past as much as possible.
This is going to be a long uphill battle if it stays like this.
We did make progress on their demand for secrecy. It was agreed that base line would be openness but items would be flagged up as confidential in the minutes. This means there might be delay in reporting back to you after meetings whilst minutes are circulated but it’s a good step forward.
We also agreed twice monthly meetings. So not all bad yesterday. There’s going to be a lot of work but good that there’s a commitment to that as well.
Hope all that helps.