MINUTES OF THE FOURTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
HELD ON 21 JUNE 2007 AT 10.00AM IN ROOM 106
Present: The Speaker
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Apologies: Mr Sean Neeson
In Attendance: Mr A Moir, Mr T Logue, Mr T Evans, Mr R Good, Ms C McGowan, and Ms C Foster. Mr Griffin, Mr Pelan and Ms Gregg from TUS were present for Agenda Item 3.
1. MINUTES OF LAST MEETING
The minutes of the third meeting of the Assembly Commission held on 7 June 2007 were agreed.
2. MATTERS ARISING
2.1. Protection of IT Equipment
Mr Evans outlined measures that were in place to protect IT equipment and emphasised the importance of Members/staff taking responsibility for Assembly assets. The Speaker updated members on his recent meetings with PSNI. It was agreed that a further report would be brought to an early Commission meeting. It was also agreed that security measures already adopted should continue, with spot checks taking place on an ad-hoc basis.
2.2. Review of Equal Pay
Mr Evans reported on a recent meeting with TUS and explained that he was awaiting TUS response to the draft Equal Pay methodology.
3. MEETING WITH TUS
The Speaker welcomed the TUS officials to the meeting. He highlighted the uncertainty faced by all staff during the protracted period of suspension and emphasised the Commission’s commitment to the Whitley process. He also stressed the Commission’s willingness to work in partnership with TUS. Mr Griffin introduced the TUS delegation and said that he welcomed the opportunity to speak with the Assembly Commission. He added that TUS was looking forward to a constructive partnership and outlined key areas of concern, namely:
Industrial Relations - although some improvements had been made, it was felt that a full-time TUS secondee would help the working relationship between TUS and management. It was also suggested that a Commission Member might occasionally attend Whitley meetings.
Equal pay audit - a number of pay grievances had been raised and Terms of Reference (TOR) were currently being considered by TUS.
Starting pay policy - TUS emphasised the importance of speedily addressing areas of concern.
Other points raised included TUS concerns about the processing of grievances and the implementation of the 2005 review of security services.
Mr Griffin summed up by citing the Scottish approach to Pay and Grading as a positive example of mutual trust between Union and Management. He then gave TUS’s commitment to working with the Commission to address the issues and build a partnership based on genuine, meaningful and timely consultation.
The Speaker thanked Mr Griffin for his presentation and explained that the Commission was happy to consider the request for a secondment to assist facilitation between TUS and management. Members asked a series of questions relating to the TUS presentation and TUS were thanked for their input.
Mr Griffin, Mr Pelan and Ms Gregg left the meeting at 10:50 am
Members further discussed the issues raised by TUS and accepted the need for a full-time TUS secondee and an urgent review of the Whitley constitution. Mr Evans agreed to bring a paper to the next Commission meeting.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 11:00 am
4. SECRETARIAT STAFF ISSUE
The Commission confirmed the substantive position of a member of secretariat staff.
5. DISABILITY ACTION PLAN
Mr Logue explained the Commission’s responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1997, and informed the Commission of the requirement to produce a ‘disability action plan’. Members discussed the draft plan and agreed that it should now be submitted to the Equality Commission. Mr Logue thanked Ms McGowan for her involvement in drafting the document.
6 STARTING PAY POLICY
It was agreed that this item would be deferred until 5 July 2007 Assembly Commission meeting.
7 MONTHLY REPORT FROM THE CLERK
Members noted the Monthly Report from the Clerk. No issues were raised which required further discussion/ clarification.
8 AUDIO SYSTEM IN CHAMBER
Mr Evans spoke to a paper on the acoustic difficulties experienced by Members in the Assembly Chamber and recommended the upgrading of equipment during the Summer Recess. Members agreed that work should be carried out to the microphones and asked that the Business Committee be advised about the arrangements.
9 ASSEMBLY AND BUSINESS TRUST
Mr Logue referred to a paper on the Assembly and Business Trust. He informed the Commission that a meeting is to be held on 28 June 2007 and asked that Members’ bring this to the attention of their respective Parties. It was noted that An All Party Notice would issue seeking nominees for the event.
10. MEMBERS SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES
Mr Moir proposed that the Commission approve publication of Members’ Salaries and Allowances for 2005-06 on the Assembly’s Website. This was agreed. It was further recommended that 2006-07 figures be published in the latter part of 2007 and Mr Evans agreed to bring a paper on this proposal to an early Commission meeting.
11. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
11.1 Recruitment Update
Members noted a paper updating the Commission on the current recruitment exercise.
11.2 Mobile Messaging
Mr Logue introduced a paper recommending a pilot study on mobile messaging facilities. Mr Evans agreed to investigate if proposed devices included a ‘hands-free’ option and to arrange a demonstration of the pilot equipment.
11.3 Ormiston House
Members agreed on a date to inspect Ormiston House.
Rev Coulter raised concerns about the standard of food provided by the current catering provider. It was agreed that Eurest should be invited to an early meeting of the Commission to discuss service level issues.
11.5 Health and Fitness Suite
Mr Moutray asked about the practicalities of providing a Health/Fitness suite for MLAs and staff. Mr Evans reported that members were able to avail of NICSSA’s current fitness facilities based in the Stormont Estate he agreed to provide the necessary information relating to this facility. Mr Evans also agreed to provide further information on shower facilities within Parliament Buildings.
12 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission will be held on Thursday 5 July 2007 at 10:00 am in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 11.45 am.