The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 18thJanuary, it had received an update on the company’s progress with the proposal around offering a number of casual workers permanent contracts. At that meeting, the Committee had agreed to invite a Union representative to the next meeting in order to discuss the issue with them.
The Chairperson welcomed Ms. D. Noble, Production Manager at BWUH and Unite the Union representative, to the meeting.
In light of the UK Government announcement on 31st October 2020, extending the financial support offered by the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Chief Executive of ICC Belfast provided the Committee with an update on the the progress which had been made regarding casual workers’ employment status within the company so far.
The Director of Finance and Systems provided a timeline of the process, including the consultation period with staff and the staff categories which it affected.
Ms. Noble advised the Committee that the Union had been kept well informed throughout the process and that it had a good relationship with the company’s management.
She outlined that the Union was content that a number of casual staff were proposed to be taken on as permanent staff members. She added that some members of casual staff did not want to become permanent, due to other commitments or jobs, but that it was important that all staff were consulted on the issue as it could impact on the requirement for casual staff in the future.
In response to a Member’s question regarding those employees who would not be offered a permanent contract with the company, the Chief Executive advised that a number of staff wanted only to take on work when it suited them and that they did not want a permanent contract.
In response to a further question regarding the recent announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in relation to the extension of the furlough scheme until September 2021, whereby employers would be required to pay 10% towards the hours that their staff did not work in July, and increasing to 20% in August and September, the Director of Economic Development confirmed that any decision relating to those employers contributions would be subject to a financial analysis and would have to be considered by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.
A further Member raised concerns that it might be difficult to bring apprentices into the business while the company was conducting a staff review. The Chief Executive pointed out that there was a demand and significant activity in future years, which would create opportunities for both current employees and those outside it.
In a discussion on the proportion of casual employees which would be offered permanent contracts, Ms. Noble confirmed to the Committee that the Union was content that the number corresponded with the discussions they had had with employees.
The Chairperson, on behalf of the Committee, thanked Ms. Noble for her attendance at the meeting.
The Committee noted the update which had been provided.