Read the Frontline article Get support in the workplace with CSP representatives for more information on workplace wins.
CSP workplace reps help thousands of members every year, supporting physiotherapy staff and giving them a voice at work. And directly or indirectly many patients benefit from the CSP’s army of dedicated volunteers in the workplace.
But it’s the kind of support that is often necessarily invisible. To help lift the lid on the work of our stewards and safety reps, we recently asked them to tell us what they've been doing.
Here's some examples, which are anonymous to protect CSP members and ensure good partnership working.
Patient care and safety
- Plans to demolish a leased building housing a large physio department including a hydrotherapy pool were put on hold after the local workplace steward made representations to her manager
- At two different workplaces, therapy gym spaces that were threatened due to bed pressures were protected by the local stewards
- Plans to cut appointment times of MSK physios to boost productivity and cut waiting times at one health provider were put on hold after the steward won an agreement to a consultation with staff. CSP members came up with alternative ideas that still sought to meet management objectives and these are currently under consideration
- The outpatient physio gym at one hospital had a hole in the floor in a section that was used mainly for neuro patients. The safety rep carried out a risk assessment and contacted the estates department and subsequently the employer’s health and safety manager to get make the floor safe
- A carpet in a paediatric outpatients department was replaced with easy to clean vinyl flooring in a win for infection control, thanks to the efforts of the local safety rep. Only repeated and effective influencing by the CSP safety rep, highlighting the risks of spreading infection, secured the change
- Toilet facilities at a hospital were damp and mouldy and generally in a ‘poor condition’ but when the safety rep did an inspection and took the matter up with the infection control and occupational health departments remedial action boosting patient safety was taken
- A physio outpatients department was being passed by in a trust wide safer sharps initiative with normal needles were being used for injections but now, after the CSP safety rep brought this to the attention of management and others with responsibility for such matters, departmental staff and patients are safer
- The intervention of a safety rep ensured height adjustable plinths that were due to be removed from a service dedicated to children were kept, in a win for patient and staff health and safety. The rationale of the original proposal had been a cost-cutting reconfiguration of the building
- Infection control was improved at one hospital after the safety rep highlighted to management that storage containers were not designed for easy cleaning – they have been replaced with ‘wipeable’ storage boxes
- A steward and safety rep worked together to ensure training and inductions for staff who were covering psychiatric wards at a neighbouring trust, including on note-taking. This hadn’t been happening, putting CSP members at risk and meaning they were potentially failing to meet professional standards
- A move of a number of physiotherapy staff to a new site that would negatively affect CSP members and patient care was stopped for some staff, or delayed for others, to allow a fairer and more thought out process
Pay, increments and allowances
- Underpayment of enhancements for weekend working was successfully challenged through a collective grievance and backpay agreed for the previous year, thanks to the input of the local steward
- A local steward secured the application of 1% pay increase to stand-by on-call rates in a success that affected all on-call members of staff who had originally been denied the rise for these payments
- A planned reduction in pay protection - which is for staff whose pay is adversely affected by organisational change - was scaled back thanks to effective joint action by the CSP steward and other union colleagues
- A pay cut due to downbandings following a reorganisation was tackled by a local steward who ensured pay protection applied
- A flawed computer system that was resulting in members not getting their pay increments was ditched thanks to the intervention of the steward. The system did not properly record completed mandatory training, which is tied to each staff's pay increments
- A workplace rep helped 25 staff negatively impacted by a change in work site, as it resulted in them paying for parking when before it was free. A six month review of available 'free' parking spaces was agreed while one member particularly badly affected was given a change of site for part of the week
Downbanding and clinical leadership
- In one organisation the downbanding of up to eight advanced practitioners was averted when proposals to take them down from 8a to 7 were challenged by the members aided by their steward, through a grievance, as the employer hadn't followed their organisational change policy. An alternative job description was proposed and then matched to Band 8a, in a win for professional leadership
- Compelling evidence gathered by a steward saw a wrongly banded member upbanded
Working time and work-life balance
- An employer with around 200 CSP members on the payroll had cancelled all leave over Christmas, changed staff hours without due process and ignored individual needs during a reorganisation including their caring commitments - all reversed thanks to the 'early intervention' and a 'soft word' by the local steward
- A steward successfully challenged the rejection of a flexible working request by one member, with strong evidence and a grievance
- Proposals to change maternity leave policy that would have negatively impacted CSP members of child bearing age were shelved after steward and SNO intervention
- A local rep won an increase in time for administrative tasks and rest after some 50 stressed members had ‘concessionary break times’ (that been used for admin) removed
- Working time changes involving proposals not to appropriately pay staff or award toil for extra hours worked over normal working hours and that would otherwise have been detrimental to staff were rebuffed after the steward ensured proper consultation of all affected staff
- A local CSP rep ensured a smooth return to work post maternity leave for a number of members, through effective support
Sickness and ill-health
- Thanks to support from a local rep, a member on long term sick leave, caused by bullying and harassment, is now back to much less stressful job with a plan to ensure this stays the case
- The local CSP rep represented a member who had reached a final hearing over sickness absence, supporting her in developing a return to work plan with a change of base, avoiding possible dismissal
- A local rep tackled stress and gained management understanding and support for a member over sickness absence linked to an accident at work
- A member was aided into ill health retirement, with the steward giving support and advice to the member and management
Staff health safety and wellbeing
- A CSP safety rep assessed MSK, eye or stress problems among staff prior to the introduction of lap tops, leading to preventative action to manage health and safety issues related to equipment changes
- A steward secured free on call accommodation for members who had been forced to sleep on friends' floors when on rota in order to be with 30 minutes travel distance of hospital
- A review of a heavy-handed trust sickness absence policy that was causing stress and leading to increase in formal action plans was implemented thanks to the intervention of the CSP workplace reps
- Shower facilities to meet male and female staff needs have been installed at a hospital, thanks to the safety rep’s efforts. The trust had exercise and cycle to work initiatives but hadn’t considered how staff were to wash and change. Up to 30 physiotherapy staff stand to benefit
Fairness and respect
- A reorganisation ignoring individual needs, for example with respect to disability and caring commitments, was addressed to the satisfaction of staff concerned
- A steward obtained a lifting of ‘performance management’ that had been implemented despite no support for the affected member with dyslexia, and a support plan was also agreed
- A steward overturned a policy under which staff on maternity leave did not accrue bank holiday entitlement. This positive affects up to 60 members
- Thanks to the steward's strong preparation of two members' cases in disciplinary hearings, the members were given final warnings instead of being dismissed
- Charges against a member suspended for gross misconduct were dropped with no case to answer, following advice and support from the steward
- The local steward’s robust input ensured disciplinary action with allegation of fraud linked to mileage claim dropped with no case to answer
- Disciplinary action against a member was stopped thanks to the intervention of the local steward and safety rep, who also secured a delay in a hearing to allow time for the member to properly prepare her case
- The local CSP steward ensured a fair process was followed for a budget-saving restructuring of community physio services and also maintained Band 7 posts within the scope of the re-design, thus protecting quality services and providing opportunities for downbanded staff to be slotted back into those positions
- An employer sought to break their promise to ringfence new jobs for 12 months for 12 downbanded band 6 physios. But after the local steward - assisted by her CSP regional officer - intervened, gathering evidence and preparing a grievance, the downbanded staff secured their old jobs before their pay protection ran out
- A threat of dismissal & re-engagement (section 188 letter) made during negotiations on a new on call agreement was withdrawn after effective join action between CSP stewards and other union reps
- A steward protected jobs for 6 MSK physios staff who worked as secondees to a private company, after they had to be redeployed when the contract ended 2 years earlier than anticipated. Two staff obtained jobs at the same band and four got jobs at lower bands with 2 years pay protection
- Members were supported over TUPE transfers using strong communications (meetings, letter writing, emails) and ensuring proper procedures were followed
A Voice at Work
- Many CSP stewards are active in the local ‘staff side’ partnership fora, discussing and negotiating with management over employer-wide policies. Some are in leading positions, speaking up for CSP members and our colleagues in other health professions, raising the profile of our members and physiotherapy
- CSP safety reps sit on your employer’s health and safety committee, or otherwise actively feed into it, raising issues on your behalf and playing an role in employer-wide initiatives that make you –and your patients safer
- An attempt by one employer to bring in a 'major change' to working conditions at without proper consultation was rebuffed thanks to the steward's effective action, working with other local health union reps
- At a large employer, the CSP and other local unions in the local staff side who were being by passed by management are now engaged in restructuring plans after they lodged a dispute
Collective action and you!
- None of the above examples of ‘workplace wins’ would have been possible without you. CSP workplace reps cannot be effective in the workplace without the engagement of CSP members. Collective activity by physiotherapy staff is the key to influencing change in your place of work. So get active in the CSP! Look out for emails and other communications from your CSP rep, and please respond if your input is needed. And why not offer a helping hand? Above all, get in contact early if you feel there are any plans afoot that may affect your employment negatively. Together we are stronger!
This information is based on feedback from stewards and safety reps about support they’ve provided to individuals and groups of members. It was supplied by about 150 out of the CSP's 1,200 workplace reps (one in eight) between June and October 2015.
They were also asked how many members were affected by the positive changes they brought about. It’s not a precise science but we estimate it’s about 3,500. If you asked them, every workplace rep could report some kind of positive impact they’ve had on physiotherapy staff in the workplace.
The number crunchers among you may wish to scale these results up. What’s clear is that a huge number of CSP members benefit from our network of stewards and safety reps each year. And a great many of our members’ patients too.