The role of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as an employers' organisation with an international comparison.
Smart, Peter John
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The thesis examines the development and present role of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as an employers' organisation and contrasts this role with the manner in which the corresponding function is discharged by the local authority associations in the four Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The role embraces three main activities: joint collective bargaining, training and development and other support activities. The history of the joint collective bargaining activity now undertaken by the Convention on behalf of constituent local authorities spans almost half a century. The conclusion is drawn that it has developed on a somewhat piecemeal basis and that despite attempts, most recently in 1986, to introduce a greater element of co-ordination, the present arrangements are unnecessarily complex. Some of the negotiating arrangements are UK-wide, others have a link in to UK arrangements with subordinate Scottish machinery and yet others are unique to Scottish local government. The various negotiating bodies have different dates throughout the year for the settlement of pay claims and there is scope for the creation of anomalies between negotiating groups, since each negotiates and settles independently of the others. The training and development activities of the convention have a much shorter history. The minimal allocation of resources to these activities is criticised. The conclusion is drawn that without a greater allocation, local authorities in Scotland will continue to receive an impoverished service. The range of other support activities is also quite limited, although there has been a discernable development in these over the past four or five years. comparison is made between the present levels of provision and the recommendations of official reports on the provision of central personnel support in local government, spanning some 60 years, which endorses the conclusions drawn, that Scottish local government is not well served by the provision currently made by its central organisation. In relation to the collective bargaining activity, the international element of the research concludes by reference to all four comparator countries that it is possible to develop and work within a less complex model. On the other hand none of the comparators endures the complications of a relationship with negotiating arrangements covering a wider geographical area. The international comparison also highlights the extensive nature of the training and development activities of the local authority associations in three out of the four countries, and concludes that there is generally a greater availability of other support services. Finally, the thesis refers to the government's proposals for the reorganisation of local government in Scotland in the mid-1990s and suggests that the Convention should plan now for an appropriate enhancement of its role as an employers' organisation in support of the local government structure that will be in place following the reorganisation.