Hello PPMA members and friends,
The industrial action taken last week by public sector trade unions has been taking a lot of the time and attention of many of us.
The propaganda war has been intense, about the numbers striking, the numbers of schools closed, the impact on other services, the quality or otherwise of the negotiations, and worst of all, in my view, the private v public sector comparisons which encourage a very unhealthy ”them and us” stance.
The challenge for HR in our organisations is to ensure that a national dispute does not translate into local adversity. It is important that HR people are focussed on ensuring that employee engagement and partnership working with trade unions remains strong, even when nationally things remain challenging.
There are many examples of continuing strong partnership working relationships with trade unions. Last week, employers and trade unions locally worked together to minimise the impact of action on vulnerable service users. Senior managers and HR people visited picket lines to maintain a positive dialogue. It is vital that these positive dialogues are maintained.
Outside the sector, there is little recognition of the dilemma experienced by public service employees in contemplating industrial action. There is always a concern about the impact on customers, especially amongst those working with the more vulnerable. I know from talking to a number of colleagues that the decision to participate in the strike action was one which was weighed with some angst. Some decided to participate, others did not. Regardless of the final decisions made, and the actual numbers who took action, there is no doubt that large numbers of public sector employees feel unhappy and uneasy.
In these difficult times visibility of senior managers across our organisations is important. We all know that what might seem like small gestures from senior leaders can have high impact across the organisation. The reverse is also true. Significant issues experienced by staff at the front line can get minimised as they pass up the leadership hierarchy. So it is important for senior leaders to get out there and talk to people across the organisation first hand so that they see and hear employees’ concerns for themselves and are able to respond to them directly. And it is important that we in HR do this too.
I am looking forward this coming week, to having the opportunity to discuss these and other issues with PPMA members. First on Thursday 8 December at the East of England PPMA regional event on “insight to action” and then on Friday 9 December at a meeting of PPMA members in our London Region.
Before then, I have another very important event-my eldest son is 16 this week-Happy Birthday Joe!
Until next week,