Stunning news – or not? Watch this space
The usual train journey down to London and a call at 11.00am about the Employer Relations team service offering. This is a really interesting concept where the ER team are going to act as business partners to the groups and ensure that consultation is taking place. It will allow us to find out where there are gaps, so for the first few months of the new structure we will hold fortnightly calls to make sure it’s working for all of us.
Then I packed up a bag of ARC and FDA goodies and legged it over to the KAI Conference which was at the Grand Connaught Rooms near Covent Garden. We have had a few ARC dinners there and it’s not bad. I was helping Jim Rogers man a union stall. We had to share it with PCS, so when an HO came over and was given some PCS leaflets I followed her out of the door and spoke about Keystone (she wasn’t already a PCS member!). I then hid a few Keystone pens on the table without letting PCS see – it made me chuckle!
It wasn’t very busy so Jim let me get back to Leake Street after lunch. I was able to write my blog and prepare for a call the next day. This involved searching for relevant emails and reading them again – so not too onerous, but important. While I was doing this an invitation dropped into my inbox for a call with Joe Corcos on Tuesday which I could make (and would have made sure I could if there was a clash) so I bit the bullet and asked if I could go over to 100PS and join the call – I hadn’t met Joe and I thought it would be useful to!
On Tuesday, the call I had been preparing for was a productive discussion which I agreed to take to the Workforce and Location meeting on Friday and then the meeting with Joe. This was in relation to the “stunning news” I referred to in last week’s blog – which in fact turned out to be less stunning when told to me by Joe. So I’m watching this space eagerly because it could be stunning or I could have been misled – but the person who told me isn’t usually misleading, so I remain confused.
In between these two I dealt with various emails and checked the HMRC website on the Surface Pro. It’s so much easier to do this job with the ability to stay plugged into what happens in HMRC, and occasionally I can get the Surface Pro to talk to the Blackberry so that I can work at home on a Friday!
On Wednesday, Graham Flew and John Parkhouse were running some caseworker training in Birmingham – upskilling a few of our experienced caseworkers in DTA and RDT for example. They have a list of things they want me to look at as a result of the training sessions so I’m looking forward to that; alcohol may be required (from them to me) before we tackle it though! I wanted to show support for the training and I also thought it might be nice to have a night at home, so I travelled back to Birmingham (I had a £7 ticket) and went for a Balti with them all. RTI was supposed to come to but he decided to play bridge instead!
Then I travelled back to London (another £7 ticket) on Thursday morning, ready for a pay subgroup dial-in that afternoon. Normally, I go over to 100PS for these but my contact was on leave so I dialled in. It turned out the pay team were at their desks too, so it was a guarded conversation. Modelling is still going on and I have prepared a two-page business case to share with the team and for them to put into the overall case. My question in August was ‘What is ExCom’s appetite to back a business case?’ – well, we shall soon find out!
I did have a bit of an argument with the PCS national officer who was complaining that he didn’t have access to Google Docs and so could not see what we were referring to. I pointed out to him that he was not actually on the subgroup, he was standing in for the two PCS reps who were and so it was their responsibility to share information with him. He completely misunderstood and thought I was saying he wasn’t entitled to see the information, so I received a lecture about being a national officer. When I finally got a word in edgeways, I said I agreed he was entitled to see it but he shouldn’t put pressure on the pay team to provide it. He wasn’t having that and put the phone down. Hey ho!
Just as I was leaving the office the Employer Relations team called to give me advance notice of the communications they were about to share about Concentrix. There will, of course, be an impact on existing staff in Belfast as the staff from Concentrix move into HMRC. I don’t think the G7s are members but that doesn’t mean I am not interested in how this is handled. I was also told that Jon Thompson would like to meet the unions quarterly so I could expect to see invitations dropping into my inbox. I had asked for quarterly so this was good news.
And then Friday, when unusually I was still in London because I had back-to-back meetings starting at 9.45 am with Meaningful Consultation. I have a pass for 100 PS now and occasionally threaten to walk up and down the second floor corridor until I bump into Jon; I haven’t done it yet but if I get a dull day I might just do so (that would be never, then!).
The Meaningful Consultation is nearing its conclusion and there are a handful of people for whom a solution has not been found which means, unfortunately, they may be looking at redundancy. The workforce management team have worked really hard with the people who are at this stage and I don’t think there is much more they could personally do. There is of course always room for manoeuvre with the HRMC policies being followed, flexible working being one, but that is not in the gift of the team working on quotes for exit schemes. At the end of the Meaningful Consultation meeting, the head of ER queried a branch release from PCS about the Concentrix staff moving. PCS had managed to turn a positive into a negative, a particular skill I always feel. The briefing had not been cleared for publication via HMRC machines and contained some quite inflammatory language. The PCS national officer, a particular favourite of mine (see previous comments re pay), showed no remorse and actually tried to argue the use of hawks and doves was perfectly acceptable. Hey ho (again).
Then a quick chat with Transformation about filling their G6 posts in their new joined up structure and straight into a discussion about the new protocols for surplus staff. I gave the FDA position on this (quick reminder – don’t forget to vote by 31 October) on the understanding PCS didn’t start having a go and then said I thought it was a bit too soon to be asking us to comment because we didn’t know what system would be adopted. PCS advised they were asking for an extra month to ballot members about the proposals but they didn’t actually say what question they were going to ask.
Finally, a meeting with Ravi where we covered lots of ground about the Regional Centres and locations until about 30 minutes from the end, when it descended into a massive argument about AAs and the future of the grade. I was a little annoyed because that meant I didn’t get the opportunity to ask my any other business questions at the meeting, so I have now emailed them to the relevant people. BOF Regional Centres are not going completely to plan with timescales being altered as commercial reality hits – but it’s not the fault of the team trying to manage the 1–2–1 process. I am still waiting for extra details around timings and as soon as I can I will share.
RTI had a day off last Tuesday, his grandson stayed at home with his dad so he could have his one year injections. He had him as usual on Wednesday but the injections had knocked him sideways, so he slept for three hours, which is unheard of. Apparently he is now fully recovered but not with RTI this week because it is half term. There was, of course, the added bonus of taking me to the station twice but only collecting me once and he’s been busy over the weekend cooking curries for our trip to Bangor next weekend. One of our friends organises the Snowdonia marathon and we now help her on the weekend of the race. RTI runs the shop (hoodies and tshirts) and I wrap people in foil, even if they don’t recognise me when they get to the end of the run! We will also be glad to be able to see our son who is at Bangor Uni.
Photo: Josh McGinn/flickr.com/CC 2.0