Sunday, March 20, 2011

COHSE Homewood Trust Deal 1992

COHSE Homewood Trust Deal 1992

COHSE has signed an agreement designed to reduce the need for strikes with an opted-out trust. The deal with Homewood Trust In Chertsey, Surrey, covers 1,000 employees and provides for binding pendulum arbitration in the event of disagreement.

Under this system, an independent arbitrator, appointed by ACAS, is obliged to decide either In favour of the management or the staff side In a dispute. This Is Instead of attempting to find a midway point. The arbitrator's decision Is binding on both sides.

The agreement has been dubbed a "no strike deal" by the media. In fact. It helps avoid the need for strikes but does not rule them out completely. It the management refuses to follow the procedure to resolve an issue or to accept an arbitration award, Industrial action can be taken, as long as It is within the law and subject to certain guidelines to protect patients.

The deal follows lengthy negotiations aimed at ending a dispute over the trust's attempts to introduce new contracts. Homewood, which runs hospital and community services for people who have a mental Illness or learning difficulties, has now recognised the right of the eight unions which have members employed by the trust to bargain on behalf of new staff.

A bargaining forum to negotiate pay and conditions is being set up under the agreement, with four union and four management seats. COHSE, as the chair of the local staff side, will be represented.

Both sides have also committed themselves to working towards a minimum wage and looking at common conditions for all staff and performance-related pay. Details of how these commitments will be put Into practice have yet to be negotiated.

Local union representatives have welcomed the deal as a positive move away from the trust's previous attitude. "Having won recognition Is a great victory for the unions," said Robbie Marmion, the local branch chair.

A copy of the agreement can be obtained by ringing COHSE's communications department.

COHSE Bulletin April 1992


This was a unique agreement based on "pendulum arbitration" a form of industrial relations commonly discussed in the early nineteen nineties.

While the agreement was widely condemned, primarily because it was favoured by the then right wing leadership of the Engineering (AEUW) Unions and Electricians Union (EEPTU).

However, this version was much more pragmatic and also delivered a single pay spine and ultimately a pay rise above that obtained in other NHS Trusts much to the consternation of the Tories.

Despite attempts to characterise the agreement as a no strike agreement, the agreement did not preclude that action should agreement not be reached.

Two key players in this agreement was Roy Lilley Chairman of the Trust (and then a Conservative Councillor) and Tim Carter COHSE Branch Secretary.

COHSE would go on to embrace local pay bargaining not as a threat but as an opportunity to build health trade union organisation.

COHSE is now part of UNISON