DONCASTER Council has been accused of taking away its workers’ rights after changing its appeals process for sacked staff.
The full council has voted to support a change which will mean staff will no longer be able to appeal to a committee of councillors if they are dismissed from the authority.
But Coun Stuart Exelby spoke out against the changes, and told councillors: “I think you are taking rights away from the employees of this council.
“I’ve been a councillor for nine years and I’ve never seen anything wrong with the appeals system. If it works you leave things alone. It looks like Doncaster wants to go back to the 1920s and 1930s where you hire and fire at will.”
But cabinet member for corporate services Coun Mark Thompson called for councillors to support the change and said he had attended a meeting with the Intervention Commission, which is involved with the plans and had heard arguments for and against.
He said: “On balance, having heard the views of the commissioners and officers, I support the recommendation.”
Sacked staff will now have their appeals heard by senior council officers from a different department to that in which they work.
Unions had raised concerns over the changes.
They claimed it would be more difficult for senior managers to consider appeals objectively because of loyalties toward senior managers.
Council officers say the experience of other similar schemes is that independent managers can and do overturn their colleagues’ decisions.
Unions also warned that appeals without the involvement of councillors would increase the chances of cases going to employment tribunals.
They say that staff would feel the need to do so to get an external finding.
Officers say there is no evidence this is the case from other parts of the country.
The unions also said the change would see Doncaster using a different procedure to other South Yorkshire authorities.
Officers told them there is a strong national move towards officer-only appeals.