The great email cull
Two weeks ending 22 April 2018
Monday 9 April started with a call about culture and the change we need to make – this was the day job and delayed my journey to London but better travelling later on Monday than the night before. Once the call was done and I understood a little bit more about the event I’m supposed to run I caught the train down to London to finalise preparations for Committee on 10 April. We were holding this at the NUT because we no longer have a meeting room now we have moved out of Prospect House.
Committee was busy – we were discussing the motions for Conference, what the attitude was and whether we needed a speaker and then we moved onto discuss how we organised the investments best – to avoid having to change trustees all the time – and what the new data protection law would mean for us and centre officials. We need to do some work on this quite quickly and are currently discussing the provision of FDA email addresses for centre officials, so the ability to send emails via the membership system shows up as an official FDA email.
After committee I dialled into a UC call and then travelled to Eltham to see Michelle Wyer who was recovering from her operation. We went out for a curry and she seemed in good spirits – it was a long day though, as I didn’t get back until after 10.00pm.
Wednesday was a trip to Manchester to see the Head of IG and discuss our concerns around the conduct of investigations. We have grave concerns that our members are not being treated fairly by IG, and that there is a presumption of guilt rather than a presumption of innocence. We are also concerned at the taping of meetings when the notes produced then bear no resemblance to what has been said. The new head of IG was very receptive to working with us going forwards to try and improve how things are done. He did say there has been an increase in referrals and that the team is short staffed so he is seeking to increase the size of the team. He also said that he knew that taping meetings was common practice but it was not actually in the instructions – so we pushed for that to be reviewed. We have also agreed to do some work about preventing inadvertent breaches of the rules, particularly around the IT systems and security of information.
On Thursday we had our meeting with Jon Thompson and PCS – I have sent a separate note of this as ARC Update 8 – I didn’t find it that useful and it was a little hijacked by some posturing by our colleagues. I did ask for help with the Northern Ireland job vacancy issue and we did land our gender pay gap question with a brief exchange on equal pay. What was heartening was his comment that if he had more than 1% he would pay it and he would want conversations about whether those lower down the scale should get more – for me that recognises our equal pay issue though of course he might not agree with that!
I had booked a train home for 15.40 then a UC call came through. A brief discussion with Vicki Brookes allowed me to miss that call so I could get my train as most of it was discussion about PCS issues which I am aware. I have kept a watching brief on the whole issue from a Regional Centre perspective.
Friday 13 April I had booked to give blood at 4.35pm which meant I worked at home and made many calls. The diary ran as follows:
- 8.30 – 9.00 – Casework discussion
- 9.00 – 9.30 – catch up with Tracy McGee
- 10.30 – 11.00 – Regional Comms
- 11.30 – 12.30 – Regional Change Leads call
- 13.00 – 14.00 – Cohort Sponsors
I do know what they mean but anyone looking at my diary might wonder! So it was 2pm before I was really able to get some emails done which meant I was behind as I went off to give blood and of course I had to rest when I got back because last time I nearly fainted. Admittedly I stooped forward to pick up the Christmas tree but apparently I shouldn’t have had the reaction I had to that so I had to be careful this time!
The weekend was quiet for that reason but I was pleased to hear that on Saturday my eldest daughter landed safely home from Guatamala (or guacamole as I like to call it)!
Monday 16 April saw me working at home taking various calls which included our first with Lucy Pink who leads on Brexit. This was a really useful call and will result in a joint meeting with Jim Harra who is now leading on a lot of the Brexit negotiations. It also included a call about a regional centre amenity survey, which will launch shortly.
On Tuesday I went into Birmingham to talk to the regional team there (as this is my new job) and to speak to the colleague who will be taking on the lead for diversity and inclusion work in the West Midlands. It reminded me of the commute I used to do, which was heavily dependent on trains running to their timetable, whereas the tubes run every two minutes and you are not time pressured to get to the station. On balance I’d rather be in Birmingham though!
Wednesday saw me have a discussion about equal pay before going to a meeting in Birmingham about collaboration across departments. It was very much the HMRC job taking precedence for the first three days of this week but this is the last week where that will happen as the rest of the time will focus on preparing to hand over on 23rd May. The meeting finished earlier than expected and I travelled down to London to concentrate again on ARC issues.
Thursday was a discussion with HR Policy about proposed changes to the managers’ referral form where it is recommended an individual be dismissed for attendance reasons. We were told the process had been streamlined – good – but that the recommendation for compensation was no longer to be done by the manager it would be decided by the decision maker. I pushed back extremely hard on this as I have seen cases where the manager recommends full compensation but the decision maker, with no knowledge of the case, decides to award only 75%. In that particular case the appeal was won on the grounds the decision maker had no rational for their decision, they had simply decided to try and save some money. I argued that if the manager had followed the steps correctly they were the best placed to recommend the compensation payment such that the decision maker could only overturn if there was a compelling reason overlooked by the manager. This was surely a more streamlined process than asking the decision maker to skill up on all the facts so as to be able to decide. I am pleased to say this has been accepted and the manager is still able to make the compensation recommendation. It was a new member of the ER team who was trying to push to next steps for implementation so I had to steal myself and point out she was a bit previous. The rest of the day was listening to the announcers briefing for the VR schemes launched the following week and preparation of the agenda and annual report.
On the Friday I travelled home again and carried on with the big email cull and blog catch up. Clearly it did not go as well as it could have done, but it is getting there.
The weekend was dull – but I have been so tired I needed dull. RTI did some gardening as the weather appeared to perk up – when he could tear himself away from his second home at the Bridge club that is!