Jan Parkinson, the strategic director of HR at Gateshead Council, has been appointed as managing director of the new Local Government Employers (LGE) body.
The LGE replaces the Employers Organisation for Local Government (EO) and is designed to give a stronger and more strategic approach to pay, pensions and other employment issues in local government.
A formal review of the EO began in May 2005. It resulted in the creation of the LGE and the integration of the EO’s HR improvement and workforce development functions into the government’s Improvement and Development Agency.
Parkinson, current president of public sector HR body Socpo, said her two priorities were to focus on the major pay and pensions issues ahead and create a confident, customer-focused organisation.
“Local government employers are currently facing some complex industrial relations issues,” she said. “We need to support employers in the current pensions dispute, prepare for the next pay round and provide effective solutions for tackling the problem of equal pay.”
Local government faces strong pressure from unions to halt plans to alter local government pensions.
The results of ballots of local government union members across the UK are expected by the end of this week. More than 16,000 members of Amicus have already voted for strike action over draft regulations that would reduce benefits for about two million members of the local government pension scheme.
Unions want local government workers to be given the same treatment as other public sector workers whose pension rights are fully protected, such as staff in the Civil Service, police officers and firefighters.
They are also angry at the scrapping of the so-called ‘rule of 85′, which allowed scheme members to retire at 60 on a full pensions if their age and years of service added up to 85.
The Local Government Association has said changes to the scheme were “both needed and necessary”.