21st NOVEMBER 2013

Present:    Gareth Edwards, Streetscape and Sustainable Environment Manager;
Mary Slinn, Bereavement Services Manager; Alan Brown, Senior HR Officer; Sandra Daniels, Bereavement Officer, South; Robert Warhurst, Cemeteries/Crematorium Technician; Anthony Gosling, Supervisor; Suzanne Roberts, Crematorium Technician; Graham Bennett, Technical Operative;; Shawn Reed (GMB); Steve Otter (UNITE)

Apologies:    Hamish Pringle, Project Manager; David Mulliner, Bereavement Services Operative; Craig Nicholson (Unison); Tracey Evans, (Unison)

1.0    Introduction
Alan Brown, introduced himself to the group.  

2.0        Feedback
Gareth asked if the representatives felt that the e mail and hard copy notes of meetings were the best way in which to ensure that all staff were being kept fully informed.  It was agreed that staff continue to be briefed by the representatives and if there was any new information e mails to be sent detailing this.

3.0        Newsletter
Mary asked for any suggestions that the group might have to improve upon the format of the newsletter.   It was thought that contact details should be included of the staff representatives, together with a summary of items that have been discussed at these meetings.  Shawn also suggested that the next newsletter should contain a short paragraph on each of the Executives, so staff would have some idea of their background.  It was also thought that a timeline would be a useful addition to the Newsletter.

4.0        Staffing Structure
The question was asked if it would be possible for part time staff, who currently worked more than their allocated hours could be transferred across as full time.   Alan explained that as far as TUPE transfer it was a ‘cut and lift’ transfer ie staff would transfer on their contracted hours with the same terms and conditions.

Sandra asked if vacant posts would transfer across; Alan Brown confirmed that they would be included in the TUPE transfer schedule of information.
5.0        Executive Board Members
Suzanne voiced her concern about the number of levels for the new company, believing that it should be more streamlined, not a creation of roles.  Gareth advised that Orbitas, would be streamlined and that the reporting procedures would in fact reduce tiers not increase them.  

The Executive Board would be made up of three Councillors

2.0        Ideas and Suggestions
Gareth asked the group what they felt was the best way in which to capture ideas and suggestions from staff

2.0        Questions and Answers
•    Will suggestions, comments etc from staff be listened to?
Yes.  The success of Orbitas will be defined by its staff and therefore all comments, suggestions, queries and ideas you have are very welcome.  It is always useful to capture this information and if you have any ideas about how this can best be done please let us know.

•    What control will the company have in relation to budgets?
Cheshire East Council remains the sole owner of the company and will have a direct say, through the governing board, on the company’s annual budget and business targets.  Orbitas will have far greater freedom in deciding how its annual budget is pent and what supplies and services it uses.  Orbitas will also be able to develop additional icome streams and a (yet to be agreed) percentage of this will be retained for discretionary use.

•    Will the company be tied to established contracts?
The current contracts used by the service are all being reviewed to determine what obligations they contain.  Decisions will be required as to whether it is in Orbitas favour to continue these agreements (an example of this is for the energy the company uses) or whether it is better for the company to set up its own contracts.

•    What will be the structure of the new company?
This has not yet been determined – as soon as a draft is available we will circulate it.

•    Will the main base be at Pyms Lane Depot?
Orbitas will continue to operate from its administration offices in Crewe and Macclesfield.  It is highly unlikely that any Orbitas staff will be located at any non bereavement site.

•    Will there be a review of job roles?
Job roles can be reviewed at any stage to reflect changes in responsibilities or roles.

•    How much input will the staff have within the new company?
It is already acknowledged that the success of our existing bereavement service is down to your commitment, knowledge and enthusiasm.  The ambition for Orbitas is therefore to ensure that the level of service you provide is maintained and where possible enhanced.   Orbitas will also actively be seeking new opportunities to improve the overall service offering and your role in achieving all this is crucial.   If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how you would like this to happen please let us know.

•    Will the Councillors who have been elected on to the Board be visiting the staff?
Yes.  As of yet the Board has not yet been officially appointed however, the Chairman, Councillor David Marren, has already expressed a wish to come and meet all Orbitas staff and a meeting will be set up shortly.

3.0        Frequency of Meetings
It was agreed that the frequency of the staff, stakeholder meetings  would be on a monthly basis, though it could be more often if required.

4.0        Feedback
It was generally felt that the way in which information is communicated at the present time worked well ie e mail and distribution to those not on e mail. In respect of the staff newsletter, it was agreed that this should be issued on a monthly basis.  With regard to feedback from the staff meetings, staff present at these meetings would feedback to their colleagues and bring any questions to the next meeting.

5.0        Considerations
•    Uniforms – the colour of the uniforms was discussed and staff suggestions included: burgundy; dark navy; black.  It was agreed that this would be taken back for all staff to comment on.
•    Method Statements – these are about the way we carry out our roles and it will be important for staff to have input into them to ensure that everything is captured.
•    Transport/plant/equipment – a staff subgroup has been set up to discuss these issues, however it is important for all staff to have an input.
•    Formal consultations are set for staff on 7th November.


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