The Authority have issued a section 188 notice (" reluctantly " according to the Council leader)
What does it mean?
An employer is legally required to consult its trade unions when it is 'considering' redundanicies.
Consultation should begin at least 90 days before the redundancies .
A section 188 notice serves as notice that an employer intends to make a number of employees redundant (in this case all employees!) and that the required consultation period has begun.
Their purpose in doing so in this case, is to then offer re-employment on new terms and conditions (ie new pay-scales).Is it legal ?
Yes unfortunately it is , HOWEVER , by terminating existing contracts and offering new contracts, they do open themselves to unfair dismissal claims. and any consultation must be meaningful.
More importantly however will UNISON members let them get away with it? !
THe Council leader calls the section 188 a "technical necessity that does not deflect from our commitment to collective bargaining". Of course it does! it means that if we dont agree to the payscale they will impose it!
Following a packed UNISON meeting this week Ade Turner (Branch Secretary) stated;
"It is likely that we will recommend rejection of the current proposals and that may lead to Industrial action . A lot of anger was expressed towards the Council at the packed meeting. People have lost faith in the evaluation process and believe that the methods were flawed".
But even if the Council carried out its threat and issued dismissal notices , could it run its services if even a minority refused to sign new contracts? of course not .
But it would not be sufficient merely to refuse to sign new contracts , members would have to take specific action , so whilst UNISON maintains ITS commitment to collective bargaining , we will not rule out fighting fire with fire!