Coun­cil’s eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment poli­cies ‘need ur­gent re­view’

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - LIZ BRADFIELD [email protected]­plc.com

BRID­GEND County Bor­ough Coun­cil (BCBC) needs to “ur­gently re­view” its eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment poli­cies, say coun­cil­lors, who fear peo­ple work­ing in the lo­cal au­thor­ity’s sup­ply chains could be at risk of mod­ern slav­ery, hu­man rights abuse and un­eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment prac­tices.

BCBC has yet to sign up to the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s Code of Prac­tice for eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment in sup­ply chains which fo­cuses on guar­an­tee­ing good em­ploy­ment prac­tices.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity says it doesn’t have the fund­ing to au­dit it ef­fec­tively and its cur­rent pro­cure­ment poli­cies take ac­count of all the is­sues raised in the code any­way.

How­ever at a re­cent scru­tiny com­mit­tee meet­ing, coun­cil­lors said no cost anal­y­sis had been car- ried out of im­ple­ment­ing the code and there was a risk to em­ploy­ees work­ing in the sup­ply chain in not hav­ing a pol­icy.

Call­ing for an ur­gent re­view, coun­cil­lor Mar­tyn Jones said: “Part of the code refers to mod­ern slav­ery, hu­man rights abuse and un­eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment prac­tice, and we’re told proac­tive as­sess­ment is not cur­rently car­ried out.

“How can we be con­fi­dent that within the sup­ply chain em­ploy­ees are be­ing treated fairly and with re­spect?

“I ac­cept to some ex­tent the fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions to this but we have an op­por­tu­nity here when we ac­tu­ally agree con­tracts to en­sure that peo­ple are be­ing treated fairly.”

Of­fi­cers said that as the coun­cil had not adopted the code it wasn’t ap­pro­pri­ate to “com­pel” con­trac­tors to adopt it, adding that var­i­ous is­sues around eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment were cov­ered in a pre-qual­i­fi­ca­tion ques­tion­naire.

Mon­i­tor­ing of­fi­cer Kelly Wat­son there were a num­ber of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties that hadn’t signed up.

She said: “The pro­cure­ment strat­egy is be­ing worked on and that will have a sec­tion on eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment.

“The guide­lines are al­ready taken into con­sid­er­a­tion and where pos­si­ble, within the re­sources, we are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can.

“What we are not cur­rently do­ing is proac­tively mon­i­tor­ing the com­pli­ance, that’s down to re­source.”

Cllr Jones said: “It is sad to say that we don’t proac­tively as­sess un­eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment prac­tices, slav­ery is­sues and all the is­sues we see daily on the tele­vi­sion news.

“The over­rid­ing re­sponse [from of­fi­cers] we’ve had is cost but you can’t pro­vide that ar­gu­ment if you haven’t done a cost anal­y­sis.

“We need to get pol­icy and prac­tice in place that pro­tects, oth­er­wise we may very well find that peo­ple are go­ing to be mis­treated, the rep­u­ta­tion of this au­thor­ity is go­ing to be threat­ened and we may find our­selves hav­ing to find money from the pub­lic purse to rem­edy the mis­gov­erns of what has hap­pened pre­vi­ously.”

Coun­cil­lors agreed to rec­om­mend to of­fi­cers that a pol­icy on eth­i­cal em­ploy­ment be adopted and a cost into im­ple­ment­ing the code be re­searched.

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment in­tends that all pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions should sign up to the code, al­though there is no le­gal re­quire­ment to do so.

Cab­i­net mem­ber for fi­nance Hy­wel Wil­liams said the coun­cil was happy to sign up to the code pro­vided there was fund­ing from Welsh Gov­ern­ment to sup­port the coun­cil’s abil­ity to au­dit tively.

The cor­po­rate overview and scru­tiny com­mit­tee meet­ing took place on Novem­ber 6. it ef­fec-

Brid­gend County Bor­ough Coun­cil

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