Giving wings to consultation

first_img Previous Article Next Article A major restructuring exercise was the perfect opportunity for Air Miles toget its consultative machinery up to scratch. But no-one could foresee theimpact this would have on the reorganisation, as Tim Craddock explainsThe recent adoption of the European directive on employee consultationcaused consternation among some UK HR practitioners. Their concern was thatEuropean recipes for employment law do not necessarily suit the British palate.Voluntarism – the sceptics will argue – is the UK way and consultativearrangements are best left to individual nation states to determine. While “one size fits all” is not necessarily the ideal way to getpeople actively to commit to consultative arrangements, we must not lose sightof the central issue, which is the need to listen to and talk to your staff. Itsometimes seems that the real objection of the directive’s critics is theactual obligation to consult, rather than the form consultation takes. Air Miles has recent experience of both a new staff consultative body,called Viewpoint, and a major restructuring programme involving the transfer ofour call centre operations from Crawley to our site at Birchwood, nearWarrington. We have seen in practice how proper consultation is essential tomanaging transition successfully. The reorganisation Air Miles is a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways and is probablythe best known loyalty scheme in the UK. More than five million people collectAir Miles through day-to-day purchases. They can redeem them for a wide rangeof leisure products, from flights and holidays, to cinema tickets andrestaurant meals. Founded in 1988, Air Miles has grown rapidly and employs 900staff split across two sites in Crawley and Birchwood. Earlier this year, we conducted a review of our operations to ensure we weremaximising our efficiency and keeping strong control over our cost base. As aresult at the beginning of May we announced a proposal to consolidate our callcentre operations at Birchwood – where we have a purpose-built andunder-utilised facility – and close the call centre at Crawley. Our head officefunctions and sales and marketing teams would remain at Crawley. Theconsequence of this was that 250 jobs would go at Crawley, with 160 created atBirchwood. Legal obligation to consult These proposed redundancy figures triggered the collective consultationobligations under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations(Consolidation) Act 1992. If a company recognises a trade union for the areawhere the redundancies are proposed, then consultation must be with the union(previously, an employer could choose to consult either with the union or withseparately elected employee representatives). Where there is no union, consultation must take place either with a standingconsultative body (for example, staff consultative committee or works council)or with a body elected especially for the purpose of consulting over theparticular redundancy exercise. Air Miles is not unionised, but has a standingconsultative body which was the focus for discussions during our consultationperiod. Consultation at Air Miles Separately from our business and operational review, we had beenreorganising our employee consultative structures. Our business is structuredinto divisions and we had separate consultative bodies for each division. Thishad led to a loss of focus on key business issues because the consultativecommittees tended to focus on parochial issues within their “patch”.The company also had a new managing director, Drew Thomson, who joined from ourparent British Airways. Drew was committed to strengthening consultation acrossthe whole company, raising the focus from “bike shed” issues to thosefacing the business and performance. Drew instituted a review of our consultative committees which was carriedout by the committees themselves, facilitated by HR. The result was a newstructure – Viewpoint – to cover the whole of Air Miles. We divided the companyinto 10 constituencies, with a total of 31 representatives. Of these 14 were toattend Viewpoint meetings, and they were to be joined by the managing director.The Viewpoint representatives would elect a facilitator who would chairmeetings and ensure minutes were prepared and documentation distributed. For elections, we initially decided on the established route of invitingpeople to put themselves forward and then hold an election. But followingfurther discussions, we were concerned this process could lead to a relativelynarrow spectrum of people coming forward. We wanted to make Viewpoint relevant,visible, responsive and accountable and wanted representatives who commandedthe widest respect in their constituencies. We therefore decided instead toencourage our staff to nominate for Viewpoint the people they thought were bestsuited to represent their interests, rather than have a traditional election.Those with the most nominations were then invited to join. This process workedwell. For the people nominated, there was the confidence that they had theenthusiastic support of their constituents. The Viewpoint effect Having established our new consultative forum in April, it was immediatelyplunged into the defining experience of being involved in a major redundancyexercise. When we announced the proposal on 2 May, we explained that we were embarkingon a three-month consultation period, as set out by law. We explained we hadidentified the need to reduce our cost base and that in our analysis thisrequired closing our call centre at Crawley, transferring the work to Birchwoodand rationalising the call centre support areas. But we made clear that what wehad put forward was not necessarily the only solution. We wanted our staff toconsider the proposal and look into any alternatives. We made technical staffavailable for business workshops which our staff were invited to attend. Weemphasised that Viewpoint would be the primary route for consultation, but thatwe were also open to individual discussions with staff. To underscore our commitment to the consultation process, we scheduledweekly meetings with Viewpoint, with the managing director present. We alsocommissioned a firm of independent career and counselling specialists, HurstAssociates, to provide impartial support and advice for staff throughout theconsultation period and up until any redundancies took place. The input of Viewpoint representatives has been invaluable. Apart from themyriad issues raised by staff, which they helped marshal and bring to thecompany, it has been instrumental in looking for alternative proposals.Testimony to the success of this was the adoption of a counter-proposal tomaintain an evening/weekend shift for call centre staff at Crawley. Thisalternative arose from discussions which initially took place in the businessworkshops. Recognising that we receive most calls in the evenings and atweekends, we were asked to investigate the feasibility of keeping such a shiftat Crawley. This reflected that we already employed a large number of staffworking such shifts and for whom evening and weekend work fitted their domesticcommitments. Following an exhaustive review of this option – in which Viewpointrepresentatives played a key part, both in evaluation and in discussing theoption with their constituents – we were able to announce its implementation.As a result, 50 jobs have been saved at Crawley (meaning we have avoided 20 percent of the proposed redundancies) and our staff have been able to see theconcrete results active consultation can bring. Managing any process of transition is difficult. From our experience, wehave learnt that to do so successfully requires the active engagement of staff– it is they who are affected and whose input is vital to ensure the process isfair and efficient. As a direct result of our consultation process, we saved 50jobs and implemented the rest of the proposals in a way that saw us reachformal agreement with our staff, through their elected representatives. Thesimple message is: consultation works. n Tim Craddock was at the time of writing head of employment law andrecruitment at Air Miles Redundancy consultation – the lawThe collective consultationobligations under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations(Consolidation) Act 1992 require that all redundancy situations involving 20 ormore proposed redundancies must be the subject of consultation with employeerepresentatives before any redundancies take effect. Where there are 100 ormore proposed redundancies, then consultation must take place at least 90 daysbefore the first dismissal takes effect.While a literal interpretation of these requirements suggeststhat consultation can run in parallel with people actually being under noticeof redundancy (therefore you can be consulting while the notice clock isticking for each redundancy dismissal), the courts have stated that this is notreasonable. They have said, in essence, that meaningful consultation is notgoing to take place if people are already under notice of dismissal forredundancy. This is because it will seem that the employer has made up his mindand is merely “going through the motions”. It is essential that consultation is – and is seen to be – openand “with a view to reaching agreement with the appropriaterepresentatives” (TULR (C)A s188).Consultation needs to cover: – Ways to avoid proposed redundancies–  Reducing the numberof redundancies–  Mitigating theconsequences of the redundancies (for example, through helping redundantemployees to find other jobs in the local area). Giving wings to consultationOn 1 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

All for love

first_imgIn honor of Valentine’s Day, the Gazette partnered with the Woodberry Poetry Room in selecting a fitting poem for the holiday devoted to love.Poet and onetime Harvard student Robert Creeley wrote “For Love” for his second wife. Now, more than 50 years after its publication in his 1962 book of the same name, “For Love” gets new life with this reading by three Harvard faculty members: Stephen Greenblatt, the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities; Virginie Greene, professor of Romance languages and literatures; and Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History and chair of the History and Literature Program.Paired with both quirky and earnest vintage valentines from the Harvard University Archives and the Schlesinger Library, the poem reminds us that the pursuit of love and our struggle to understand it endure.Send your own vintage valentine from the Harvard Library collection.— Sarah Sweeney, Harvard Staff Writerlast_img read more

The Best Footwear for Multi-Sport Days

first_imgEvery day is a multi-sport day in the Blue Ridge…here’s a few new high-performing footwear picks to help get you through in comfort and steeze…all for under 100 bucks each.430 Sense 21. Start off with some DH MTB action in the Sense from DZR Shoes. These babies will grab the flat pedals like no other, keeping you glued to your steed in all conditions and terrain – and at all the right times. DZR shoes are loaded with technology not the least of which is being animal-product free. ($95) dzrshoes.com2. Headed to Looking Glass for some picking of the Nose? Grab the new Evolv Addict – a classic, quality slipper that handles multi-pitch, crack climbing, and even the boulders in style. You’ll be climbing like Cinerella on rock with these babies, with symmetrical build and a low toe profile you can size up or down a little bit depending on ability level. ($99) evolvsports.comScreenshot 2014-05-21 17.00.043. Wrap it all up and head to the river to cool off in the Propét Rejuve – an unassuming flip flop that that features some very assumptive Rejuve Motion Technology that will help bring your dogs back to life. It’s got a microfiber sock lining, cushioned EVA midsole, and performance rubber outsole for traction and durability. ($70) propetusa.comW0600-Hartley-BSV_3V_S14_llast_img read more

Possible vCJD case in UK may signal more to come

first_img Though a single case can’t be the basis for connecting a novel PrPSc type to BSE, “it will be important to see whether other similar cases occur in the United Kingdom and other BSE-exposed countries,” the researchers wrote. The researchers, who reported their findings in the December 2007 issue of Archives of Neurology, found that the 39-year-old woman carried the VV (valine-homozygous) version of the prion protein gene (PRNP), a type previously thought to confer protection against vCJD. The authors wrote that it wasn’t clear if the PrPSc typing points to a BSE cause of the patient’s illness or if the finding represents another form of sporadic CJD. In early 1999 the patient described started having visual symptoms, followed by a host of other neurological problems, such as memory and gait impairments, according to the report. Polymerase chain reaction testing revealed that the patient had the VV variant of the PRNP gene. The patient died 14 months later. Jun 12, 2006, CIDRAP News story “Study implies broader risk for vCJD in UK” Will Hueston, DVM, PhD, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Animal Health and Food Safety in St. Paul, told CIDRAP News that it’s too soon to say whether the DNA findings from the woman are associated with BSE. “I think that neurologists are probably attempting to be more cautious,” he said. “This is most likely not BSE, but they [the researchers] want to be very clear that similar cases should be thoroughly evaluated.” UK National CJD Surveillance Unit surveillance statistics Simon Mead, the study’s lead author, said the findings shouldn’t cause alarm, according to a Jan 5 New Scientist report. “The final conclusion remains open. It is waving the flag for neurologists to watch for other cases,” said Mead, who is at the Medical Research Council Prion Unit at University College London. Mead S, Joiner S, Desbruslais S, et al. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, prion protein gene codon 129VV, and a novel PrPSc type in a young British woman. Arch Neurol 2007 Dec;64(12):1780-74 [Abstract] See also: Past research has linked vCJD to eating meat products contaminated with brain and spinal cord material from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. Normal prion proteins in the brain are corrupted after contact with the BSE agent, eventually causing death in both cattle and humans. BSE, vCJD, and sporadic CJD—a rare disease of unknown cause that closely resembles vCJD—are all prion diseases, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The results of the study could also signify another variant of CJD, which is already known to occur in various forms, “but they don’t know what box to put it in,” said Hueston, adding that classifying prion disease types is often difficult. The authors of the 2006 study suggested their findings might mean that people who are infected with vCJD and have a VV type may have a prolonged incubation period, during which the disease could spread either via blood donations or from contaminated surgical instruments used on the individuals during the asymptomatic phase of the illness. In 2006, another group of British researchers analyzed DNA from three surgical samples that had previously tested positive in immunohistochemical studies of vCJD prevalence in the UK (though the patients had no clinical signs of the disease). Genotype analysis of the patients’ PRNP at codon 129 found that two of the samples were of the VV type, providing the first evidence that patients from this subgroup could be infected. (DNA could not be extracted from the third sample.) Previously, people who carried at least one copy of the V variant of PRNP were thought to have no risk of contracting vCJD. Studies in transgenic mice are under way to explore transmission characteristics related to the woman’s case, according to the report. Cases of vCJD began surfacing in the United Kingdom in 1996, in the wake of a BSE epidemic in cattle. According to the most recent update from the National CJD Surveillance Unit (NCJDSU) based at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, the number of patients in the UK who have died of confirmed or probable vCJD stands at 163. Until the case described, all vCJD patients who had been tested had the MM (methionine-homozygous) version of PRNP. Jan 9, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A British woman who died of a brain disease suggestive of variant Creutzfeld-Jacob disease (vCJD) had a genetic marker not seen in any previous vCJD patients, raising the possibility that her illness represented a new form of the disease that could signal a new wave of infections, according to a recent research report. Mead told New Scientist that patterns of prion disease seem to vary among people depending on the prion gene variant they have, and incubation period could be one aspect in which the variants differ. Experts have said CJD is known to have a long incubation period, perhaps as long as 50 years. Brain autopsy findings included severe gray- and white-matter degeneration and extensive prion protein deposits in the cortex and white matter, which the authors wrote is atypical for sporadic CJD. Molecular analysis of the pathologic prion protein (PrPSc) from the woman’s cerebellar tissue showed a novel type of PrPSc that was similar in some, but not all, respects to type 4, which is seen in vCJD.last_img read more

PCP: Can Ball live up to the Heisman hype?

first_imgBall will always play in shadow of incredible 2011 statsBall has the speed, power and vision to be one of the elite runners in the nation this season, but he simply set too high a bar last season to live up to this year’s preseason Heisman hype.It’s not that No. 28 can’t handle the pressure. It’s that matching the 1,923 yards on the ground and still unbelievable 39 touchdowns from 2011 is a nearly impossible feat. And he didn’t get off to a promising start with his 120 yards on 32 carries (3.8-yard average) against an FCS defense (even if it was a decent one) in Northern Iowa.With historic numbers last season – by far the best of any running back in college football – his fourth-place finish last year may be the closest he comes to bringing home the Heisman Trophy. He will certainly put up impressive numbers this season and have plenty of highlight reel runs, but Ball would need everything to go perfectly in his final season in a Wisconsin uniform to improve on his remarkable junior campaign.Further damaging his chances of living up to the sizable hype is an offensive line that failed to open the big holes for one of the most talented backfields in the nation in the season-opener. Ball can’t spin off defenders and bulldoze over undersized defensive backs if the run creators in front of him can’t create enough space for him to get beyond the line of scrimmage.Only time will tell if Travis Frederick and Ricky Wagner can lead a line comparable to that of last year, a unit led by Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler, two early-round NFL draft picks.So, will MoneyBall have a great season, the best of any tailback in the Big Ten? Yes. But I don’t think he will find himself giving an acceptance speech at New York’s Downtown Athletic Club this December.The lone hope is that they hand him the “career Heisman,” for his achievements over the last two years rather than a single season. But that late in the season, Barkley-mania will have already overtaken the nation.Although it will be a challenge, Ball will have solid Heisman campaign in 2012There’s no doubt about it, it’s going to be a challenge for Monte? Ball to repeat the stat line and success of 2011. But if the Northern Iowa game cast doubts about Ball’s potential to repeat his historic junior year, just remember a few key facts.One, the offensive line is replacing three starters from a year ago. There’s going to be a period in this nonconference schedule where this new starting group finds its chemistry together. However, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Wisconsin’s hog-mollies will find their groove sooner rather than later and open holes for Ball big enough for the Route 80 bus to fit through.Two, the Badgers will still have a solid pass game to keep opponents from stacking the box against the run game. While offensive coordinator Matt Canada played conservatively against the Panthers – something most play-callers do in the nonconference season so conference opponents are limited in their scouting – new quarterback Danny O’Brien made the most of his passing opportunities, going 19-23 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. One of the two touchdowns was a 53-yard strike, as O’Brien showcased his ability to beat opponents deep.Three, Monte? Ball is still Monte? Ball. It isn’t difficult to notice the Badgers’ tailback looks physically stronger than a season ago (Ball added over seven pounds of muscle in the offseason), and that will pay dividends in a long season of run-heavy football. Saturday, Ball constantly produced yards out of nothing, as he experienced first contact behind the line of scrimmage multiple times. Once the offense finds its rhythm and the holes open up, there are plenty of reasons to believe Ball will put up similar total yards to a season ago. And while the touchdowns may not come in bunches, Ball will still find himself with a solid chance to win the Heisman in 2012.After all, Ball knows that his draft stock in the NFL is affected by his performance this season. And that’s powerful motivation.last_img read more