Negotiation and representation at work A UNISON case study
Page 4: Negotiation
A key role of trade unions is to negotiate with employers on a wide range of work issues. These range from higher pay, better canteen facilities or more onsite childcare provision to time off work for family occasions.
UNISON representatives seek to ensure the maximum number apprenticeship places within individual workplaces. UNISON”s bargaining agenda also includes key training issues of young people. This includes:
ensuring apprentices have access to high quality training
making sure that apprenticeships do not become substitutes for existing jobs.
North Yorkshire County Council scheme
UNISON worked with North Yorkshire County Council and the Learning and Skills Council to develop a strong apprenticeship scheme:
100% of the apprentices achieved NVQ level 1 qualifications (the equivalent of GCSE grades D-G) during their apprenticeships. Over half have now met the standard required for level 3 (the equivalent of A-levels).
Each trainee on the scheme was matched with a mentor, i.e. a more experienced person to guide them. Once in post each apprentice was issued with a contract setting out their terms of employment. Importantly, the terms are the same as for any full time employee with the County Council. This includes annual leave and access to the pension scheme. The salary scale builds up from £95 per week at outset to £205 per week by the end of the first year. The apprentice is also entitled to an allowance if they travel more than a certain distance to the workplace.
Each apprentice is employed for a probationary period of 12 months. A review takes place at the end of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The review provides the chance to assess performance and set targets. At the end of the programme the apprentice and the employer sit down together to decide whether a permanent position can be provided. These terms were agreed between UNISON and the County Council and ensure that the young workers get fair rewards and conditions.
North Yorkshire County Council trainees study for an NVQ which is relevant to their job role. For example, this may be in Customer Service or for an Apprentice Administration Assistant, in Business Administration. Each week the apprentice is entitled to spend 1-2 hours on building up his or her NVQ portfolio as part of the course requirements. During the first six weeks of the work placement the apprentice meets with the training provider responsible for helping them to achieve the NVQ certificate.
The scheme agreed between UNISON and North Yorkshire County Council provides a first class model of how unions and employers can work together to create entry to work for young people.