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While supporting the continuation of national bargaining for pay and core conditions, local authorities want the Em...
While supporting the continuation of national bargaining for pay and core conditions, local authorities want the Employers' Organisation to take a more proactive role in supporting human resource management.

That's the result of the EO's most significant consultation with its customers during the past ten years, its board heard on Friday.

Chair of the board, Ian Swithenbank, acknowledged this, saying: 'If we are to remain useful, we need to switch from being an organisation that does negotiations and other things as well, to a broader human resources support agency which also happens to carry out negotiations'.

Charles Nolda, EO's executive director, added: 'The messages from this consultation are both stimulating and encouraging. It will be very challenging for this small organisation to broaden out from fairly narrow roles to cover the things we are being asked to do.

'But it is very encouraging that most of our respondents see a growing role for us to support the increasingly devolved nature of HR policy and practice in local government.'

Key messages from the consultation included:

- strong pressure for further rationalisation of the bargaining machinery following the 1996 merger of APT&C and manual workers. Priorities for integration with the main NJC are craft and the education negotiating bodies, particularly youth workers

- interest in longer term pay deals and more local flexibility on conditions, but at no extra cost

- demand for advice and guidance on competency-based pay

- more information to support local decisions on market-based pay supplements

- advice and guidance on the local design of pay structures and pay strategies

- more consultation and greater transparency in national decision making

- EO to get closer to its customers and involve them more

- more proactive roles in intelligence and research and development on a wide range of HR policy issues

- growing interest in the strategic HR implications of pensions

Cllr Swithenbank said the EO would be working with national and regional partners over the next few months, including the Local Government Association, the Improvement and Development Agency, the Society of Chief Personnel Officers and the regional employers to draw up programme for responding to the consultation.

'This will lead to new activities and new ways of working, and may even lead to different organisational structures,' he said.

'While we are doing this,' said Mr Nolda, 'we will still need to keep an eye on day issues, including what may be a tricky negotiating round in 2000.

'We have to deliver quickly on the priority areas, especially advice on pay structure and pay strategy, while handling the call to rationalise the bargaining machinery with care and sensitivity given the potential for difficulties on both sides of the negotiating table'.

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