Conference news

Paul
Nelson reports from last week’s annual Socpo conference in Brighton.

CBI
and BCC under fire for opposing family policies

The
general secretary of the Transport and Generals Workers’ Union has hit out at employers’
bodies’ views on work-life balance policies.

Bill
Morris told delegates that the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce, which
have opposed legislation introducing family friendly working, were obstacles to
social progress.

The
BCC and the CBI argue that work-life balance proposals outlined in the
Government’s Work and Parents Green Paper should be introduced voluntarily
rather than enforced by legislation.

Morris
said, “The CBI has, once again, stood as an industrial iceberg opposing every
piece of social reform which aims to improve the lot of working people.

“They
opposed the Social Chapter, the Working Time directive and the minimum wage.

“This
week at the BCC conference, the CBI won applause when they opposed plans to
allow parents to return from leave on a flexible part-time basis, despite the
fact that 70 per cent of the population express an interest in work-life
balance schemes.”

He
says the CBI is being shortsighted by not looking at the business case for
work-life balance.

Morris
also praised the banking sector for taking a lead in work-life balance,
highlighting a Lloyds TSB scheme which has reduced absenteeism and increased
productivity and staff motivation.

He
added, “It is, of course, a great cultural leap to introduce a flexible working
programme, but addressing work-life balance is not an optional extra, it is as
much a social as well as an economic imperative.”

Gorman’s
regret at poor relations with CIPD

Outgoing
Socpo president Terry Gorman called on his successor Keith Handley during the
AGM to improve the society’s relationship with the CIPD.

Gorman
said a closer relationship between the organisations would provide greater
support for all personnel officers and a “more forceful voice” for members.

He
described Socpo’s relationship with the CIPD during his year in charge as
disappointing.

“I
had high hopes and two very productive meetings with the CIPD, but the
relationship just did not develop. We must also take our share of the blame for
not following the meetings up,” he told delegates.

Gorman
believes the success of the organisations at local level shows they can work
together, but wants to see this success reflected on a national basis.

A
working group, chaired by Gorman, to implement the society’s membership
expansion has been set up.

The
need to develop future personnel leaders through the membership expansion was
also discussed, with Gorman warning that the future of HR in local government
could be at risk.

He
said, “It is our responsibility to develop leaders in HR, because if we do not
we will not have a HR function.”

Feedback
from the profession

Personnel
Today reporter Paul Nelson asked delegates: Do you agree with the expansion of
Socpo’s membership to all personnel officers?

John
Stocks, resources cabinet member, Nottinghamshire County Council


“The expansion of our membership is very useful as it means that more personnel
officers will be embraced. It means that more HR brains will work together, for
personnel and local government this working together can only be a good thing.”

Peter
Grimshaw, chairman of personnel, Greater Manchester Fire Authority


“Certainly, the move is very positive, the improved channels of communication
will help personnel share information, opinions and experience on all issues
that effect the sector. The extension will help reposition the society and
improve its profile on a national level.”

Dr
Henry Daniels, HR manager, Madjabang City Council, South Africa


“I back the move, as it will help to increase the support for the sector at all
levels. It will also give British local government an increased profile on both
the national and international stage.”

Dawn
Murat, personnel services office (training), Fenland District Council


“It is a good idea as long as the criteria is clear. If it is not, it could
cause a problem. The extension means we will have the forum, as we should have,
to talk to national government.”

Jill
Rothwell, chief personnel officer, London Borough of Harrow


“All members of Socpo are members of the CIPD, so if an individual is going to
have to pay a second fee to Socpo as well as the CIPD then they are going to
have to make the package attractive. I do have slight worries that this might
not be the case.”

Hilary
Jeanes, head of personnel, Cambridge City Council


“The broadening and sharing of knowledge that the bigger society should bring
will be a great advantage. All personnel officers have the right to this
information and it will help increase the development of younger officers.”

Steven
Traynor, personnel manager, Borough of Pendle


“The move will put local government at the cutting edge of politics and means
that it will be able to voice its concerns on the big issues that effect us. It
will also help to focus and make best value a success.”

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