The vast majority of clerks enjoy good relationships with their councils – but what happens if you are one of the unfortunates who don’t?
Last year 122 clerks turned to the Association of Local Council Clerks (ALCC) for support when their employment relationships turned sour.
It will never happen to you? Well, I do hope it doesn’t – but that is exactly what the 122 thought.
There are so many reasons why we can have problems in our employment, but the more frequent reasons are bullying by one or more councillors; a new chairman who does not see eye to eye with the clerk; councillors who feel that the clerk is too friendly with one of their number or simply that a new councillor joins the council and the whole dynamics of the council change. The latter is particularly true at election time, when sometimes a pressure group with the avowed intention of removing the old guard from office gets elected and they view the clerk as part of the old guard. There is also the possibility – that you simply are not doing your job properly.
Whatever the reason, things can change literally overnight.
Should this happen, then having one or more members of your council seeking to dismiss you is very unpleasant indeed. It is lonely and it is very hard to carry on with your job and fight any allegations at the same time. Meetings become a dread and your stress levels rise.
At this time you need support from someone, preferably someone who knows local councils and who can help you argue your case. This is where membership of ALCC becomes so important. I expect you know that the trade union activities of SLCC were split away last year and ALCC was formed as the only trade union for this sector and consequently as a Trade Union is entitled to provide someone to accompany you to grievance and disciplinary hearings. This means that unless you separately elect to join ALCC you will not receive employment assistance. Membership equates to just £2.50 per month, a small price for such peace of mind.
There are those of you who think that if you have employment problems you will just walk away from the job. That of course is an option, but just bear in mind that your successor will be coming into a situation where he/she may well suffer the same problems as you. Isn’t it better to try to resolve matters - and why should you be forced out of your job?
Of course, I have concentrated on employment problems but ALCC is involved in a much bigger picture and has started negotiations with NALC with a view to representing your interests when it comes to salary and service conditions negotiations.
So, ALCC is your Trade Union. We will seek to improve your salaries and your conditions of service and we offer you support should things go wrong. To me, the latter is well worth £2.50 a month. The rest I get for nothing!
Click here to join the other 2299 councils where we represent clerks.
Lionel Thatcher, ALCC Advisor and Employment Support Officer