Consultation on a new Bill to put partnership working on a formal footing to improve work in Wales launched
The Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn has launched an 8 week consultation calling for views on a new bill to improve fair work practices and public services reduce inequalities and create the right economic conditions for a more prosperous workforce and economy.
The Coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the challenges faced in the workplace and the value of social partnership in addressing them. The draft Bill will help Wales recover from the impacts of the pandemic and build back fairer.
The draft Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill will;
- Create a Social Partnership Council;
- Drive fair work through socially responsible procurement;
- Set out a requirement for public bodies to engage in social partnership;
- Promote good and safe employment in Wales and;
- Improve socio economic outcomes and ethical employment practices.
Bringing together Welsh Government, employers and trade unions, social partnerships will help identify and find solutions to improve the delivery of public services, improve social and economic well-being and ensure a fairer and more inclusive Wales.
Social partnership is already an established way of working Wales, most recently through the Shadow Social Partnership Council and National Health and Safety Forum. Throughout the pandemic partnership working has played a vital part in; supporting the self-isolation support scheme, establishing a duty around self-isolation on both employers and individuals, and helping enhance risk assessments and workplace protections.
Strengthening social partnership arrangements is in line with key recommendations from the Fair Work Commission.
The Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said:
“There has never been a more important time to work together for a fairer, more equal and just Wales. Whilst social partnership has become an established way of working in Wales, the COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed our commitment to social partnership and demonstrated its value in making decisions to the broader benefit of the people of Wales.
“The Welsh Government is committed to working in partnership to make a difference to people, to workplaces, and to Wales. This Bill is a key step towards this vision and making Wales a nation with a vibrant economy that values and safeguards our workforce. I look forward to continuing to work together to help shape the future of our workforce and social partnership in Wales."
Ruth Brady, Wales TUC President and GMB Wales and South West Regional Secretary said:
“This Social Partnership Bill is a bold and radical step that will allow workers a greater voice in the way our country is run.
“Together in partnership we will make real changes that will embed equality and fairness for workers across every workplace in Wales.
“Trade unions and the labour movement have always believed that democratically involving workers is the best way of finding equitable solutions to the challenges that Wales faces in the 21st century.
“The truth is that with uncertainty thrown up around Covid and Brexit, there has never been a more important time to join a union, so we’re urging everyone to sign up, get involved and be at the heart of changing Wales for the better.”
Cllr Philippa Marsden (WLGA Spokesperson for Employment) said:
“The WLGA warmly welcomes this Bill. Local authorities in Wales have a proven track record of working in social partnership with the trade unions. This works well at the level of each local authority as well as at a national level. We are continually striving to create a culture of no surprises, early and meaningful consultation and joint decision-making to the greatest extent possible. This has assisted us to develop better work practices, tackle inequalities and improve social outcomes. It is only right that those who deliver our services contribute to the outcomes we want to achieve. The current pandemic shows what public services can deliver when we all work in partnership; that is something we are committed to sustaining in the future.”
The consultation is open until the 23rd April. Responses can be submitted here
Notes to editors
The Shadow Social Partnership Council
The Shadow Social Partnership Council (SSPC) provides a unique opportunity to engage with Welsh Government on a range of strategic issues. Most recently this has been in response to the pandemic and has allowed social partners to advise Ministers and influence decisions as they are being made. This means partners have played a vital role in shaping the type of preventative measures put in place by the Welsh Government to restrict the transmission of Covid19. As the vaccinations programme continues to build momentum social partners have also offered essential advice on how the roll-out is designed and implemented. This has included advising on how the programme is tailored and delivered in the workplace taking account of the full range of complex ethical issues this raises. Moving forward, the SSPC will continue to be an important forum through which social partners can contribute to the more detailed planning which needs to take place in recovering from the long-term impact of Covid19.
National Health and Safety Forum
Considerations around workplace health and safety have been radically altered by coronavirus and we established the National Health and Safety Forum to provide a way for trade unions, the main employer bodies from the private and public sector and the relevant enforcement agencies to come together to share their collective experience and work together to enhance workplace health and safety in Wales.
The Forum is demonstrating a shared commitment to maximising safety in the workplace both in the immediate context of the pandemic and in building foundations for longer term collaboration. Recent progress on Covid workplace protections, including the changes we have made to regulations to strengthen the approach to workplace risk assessments has been enabled and informed by the valuable input of the Forum. In addition, the Forum has helped to shape our recently published workplace testing framework which sets out the ground rules we have developed in consultation with the Forum.