EO scrapped after criticism over handling of pay talks

The Employers’ Organisation (EO) for local government is to be scrapped after widespread criticism over the way it has handled pay negotiations.

The organisation’s work on pay and pensions will go to the Local Government Association (LGA), while its workforce and HR improvement function will be handled by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA).

The LGA said the changes were driven by the fact that pay, service conditions and pensions had become central policy issues for local government.

The move follows heavy criticism of the way the EO handled the bitter firefighters’ dispute over pay and conditions in 2003/04, which resulted in strike action.

A report by the LGA’s scrutiny panel into the mishandling of the fire dispute said accountability between the LGA and EO was blurred, and that there had been division on the employers’ side during the negotiations.

In addition, an organisational review by the Work Foundation found the EO was “politically vulnerable” to government and the unions, and was hampered by “structural weaknesses” inherent in its separation from the LGA.

EO executive director Rob Pinkham’s position has been axed, and he will leave his job at the end of this month.

Further details of the reorganisation will be revealed later this summer, following a review by the LGA’s deputy chief executive, John Ransford, and IDeA executive director, Lucy de Groot.

The EO has 140 staff, but it said there were “no proposals that jobs should be lost at this point”.

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