Monday, 23 February 2009

Having Scope and doing little about it

Scope is a leading UK disability organisation with more than 50 years experience in providing support to disabled people to increase their employment opportunities. The Welsh Assembly Government is a devolved government with nearly 10 years experience of falling short as an employer in the area of equal opportunities.

The development of the Leadership Recruitment Programme by Scope promotes awareness of staff diversity and the contribution disabled people can make to the workplace. It also aims to ensure that disabled people of graduate calibre achieve equality and are valued in society, rather than being overlooked.

Last month the programme marked a year since ending its first 12-month trial of running in the Welsh Assembly Government, who was one of many high-profile employers taking part.

Not a bad ongoing gesture from an organisation that seems to fail in this area, and needs to show a vast improvement when it comes to equal opportunities.

Friday, 20 February 2009

8 things women want to know*

Ever since Freud, men have been guessing about what women want. Famous for our verbal skills, women are still not about to tell you what's really on our minds. But believe it or not, we women don't have you men completely figured out yet, either. We spend a lot of time thinking about what goes on inside that non-communicative head of yours. So what do we want to know? When your girlfriend gets that dreamy look in her eye, she may be thinking:

"Why can't I drive?"
Every guy insists on taking the wheel, as if merely sitting on the passenger side might somehow sap his testosterone. Riding shotgun used to be a macho position in stagecoach days. Now all it's good for is asking directions.

"Why won't you go to the doctor?"
Most men would rather suffer at home, wracked by fever, puking their brains out, than go to the doctors. His refusal to admit any kind of vulnerability leaves it up to her to fret over that suspicious mole on the back of his leg.

"Where do you keep all the stuff we lug in our purses?"
I don't know any man who carries a handkerchief these days. But how can your pockets hold your notes, change, credit cards, photo ID, checkbook, pills, PDA, mobile, breath mints, lip gloss, tissues, a comb and condoms? Maybe that's why combat trousers are so popular.

"Do men ever really talk about the important things with their friends?"
So much of male friendship is about what you do together. When it comes time for emotional support, are you able to share that intimacy? It doesn't seem as if men work at their friendships as much as, or in the same way, women do.

"How come you can't smell your dirty underwear?"
When you put on the socks stuffed in your running shoes, doesn't it occur to you that they are the same socks you ran a 10K race in two days ago? Draping your briefs over the back of a chair is more of a territorial display than a cleansing rite.

"Why don't you call when you say you will?"
If your date was so unforgettable, why say you'll call? Are you so chicken that you can't let her down to her face? If you truly mean to call, and postpone it, is it out of shear incompetence, or are you playing a mind game? This leads to the corollary question..."What will you really think of me if I call you?" Is a woman who makes the first move, or second, or third, considered desperate or daring? Is she charmingly bold or offensively brazen?

And of course, the million pound question:

"When you say you love me, do you really mean it, or are you just trying to get into my pants?"

[*According to Marcy Barack]

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bonuses not just for banks

The following is an anonymous question from a civil servant requesting legal advice from a well-known trade union. I only wish I was making it up, or that it was sent with lashings of irony. Let's hope that the recent talk of cuts creates a dent in the bonuses of Assembly fat cats.

Q I am used to receiving an end of year bonus but I didn't get one this time. Am I entitled to it?

A You are only entitled to a bonus if it is specified in your contract. If you have been receiving a bonus for many years, it may be possible to argue that it has become custom and practice and therefore an unwritten part of your contract, in which case a non-payment could amount to an unlawful deduction of wages. But you would need to have all the facts about why it has not been paid before raising the issue with your manager. Discuss the situation with your PCS rep before doing anything further.

[Source: PCS Union]

Monday, 16 February 2009

Unions achieving very little for staff in lower grades

Are Trade Unions worth joining in 2009? Do members actually see a benefit, or is it just piece of mind; the thought and probable safety you may feel in being part of a crowd; being a member of a 'safety net' organisation that is bigger than one person - just in case?

Subscriptions to the average trade union is as follows:

Gross salary/Monthly subscription
£10,000 / £5
£12,000 / £6
£14,000 / £7
£18,000 / £9
£20,000 / 10

Case Study from the point of view of a junior civil servant

After 23 years in teaching, followed by 11 years in the private sector, in 2001 I joined the Ministry of Defence.

Being over 60 I have no intention of seeking promotion, and the small pay rise that would go with it, as I simply don't want the hassle.

Although it was my decision to join the civil service I am continually shocked at how low our pay is. After seven years I take home just £1,032 a month.

I don't begrudge those who are higher paid. But I do think that to pay thousands of us so badly is a national disgrace. I am fortunate being in a 'double income - no kids' household. How on earty parents with young families survive I do not know. [name and address supplied]

[In comparison, MOD salaries are higher than that of those working for the Welsh Assembly Government]

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Civil servants take 10 'freebies' each

The Daily Telegraph reports that figures to be disclosed today will show that supposedly impartial mandarins, many in charge of departments with large Whitehall budgets, have repeatedly been entertained by firms.


The Daily Telegraph has been told that around 180 civil servants will be named in a list published today. It will detail approximately 1,800 items in total that have been declared by Whitehall employees - an average of 10 trips for each official.

The hospitality mainly covers lunches, dinners and receptions. However, there is also more lavish entertainment including high-profile international rugby matches and other sporting events.

Invites to other exclusive occasions, like the opera and the Chelsea Flower Show, that make up the circuit of hospitality events, was also accepted.

Among those who have been offering the "freebies" were banks, financial consultancies and news organisations.

It comes as ministers seek to clamp down on civil servants who accept hospitality from lobbyists and companies seeking to influence legislation. The recent "Lords for hire" scandal has heightened the need for tighter control among those in Whitehall and Westminster.

In view of Wales being firmly part of the UK and its public servants largely forming part of the UK public sector/civil service, I wonder if any of the 'Cathays Park hundreds' would like to come clean as they form part of the Home Civil Service?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Welsh Assembly Government: Money for old rope

Couldn't help but post on news that has proved me, and many others right when posting back in October 2008.


The new civil service layer of Director General civil servants have now been appointed in the Welsh Assembly Government. As previously mentioned, this is part of the new Permanent Secretary's [Gillian Morgan] managment structure, which does have some merits and has seen some backing of those higher up and lower down in the Cathays Park food chain.

But of these new posts that bring an ample award of around £130,000 a year, three have rather strangely (hint of sarcasm identified) gone to internal candidates, some of who it has to be said are not exactly showered in management praise and glory. For some unknown reason a £55,000 + recruitment exercise has ended up employing three people already employed internally at the next grade down in the senior civil service [Head of Department].

One appointment does disturb me slightly.

Civil Servants are not perfect, but to appoint a man who has masterminded and single-handedly steered the staff of the Welsh Assembly Government towards a largely disappointing performance management system; the ASPB merger which led to unequal status among civil servants of the same grade; not to mention equal opportunities and other fiascos (take your pick), is largely a disgraceful act.

It is generally agreed among staff that Human Resources policy has been a disaster and particularly since 2006 - in short, a disaster since appointment. If this was a newspaper headline it would read, "Overall Head of Recruitment Gets Recruited". Surprise!

If it wasn't for my planned family holiday, this unwelcome news of neo-nepotism would have me sick to my Welsh core.

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced the appointment of new Director Generals and a Non Executive Director to its new senior management board - known as the Strategic Delivery and Performance Board.

Clive Bates (aged 47) is currently Head of the United Nations Environment Programme in Sudan and has been appointed Director General for Sustainable Futures.

Christine Daws is being promoted from her current post as Director of Finance to the Welsh Assembly Government to the new Finance Director General position.

Emyr Roberts will take up the post of Director General for Public Services and Local Government Delivery. He is currently Director of the Department for Social Justice and Local Government and has extensive experience which includes a period as Chief Executive of the Welsh European Funding Office.

Bernard Galton has been appointed as Director General for People, Places and Corporate Services following five years as Director of HR at the Welsh Assembly Government and a long career as an HR professional, primarily within the Ministry of Defence.

James Turner will replace Sir Adrian Webb as a Non Executive Director. Mr Turner has had an international business career and joined the Welsh Development Agency in the mid 1990’s as International Managing Director. Ten years ago, he established his own consultancy business undertaking board-level interim assignments and in this capacity was interim Chief Executive at the Arts Council of Wales during 2007. An experienced Non Executive Director, James Turner has served on the boards of a number of private companies and public sector organisations.

The appointments follow a tough recruitment process involving external assessors and complete the new, smaller and more focused Strategic Delivery and Performance Board which Permanent Secretary Dame Gillian Morgan announced in October 2008.

Gill Morgan said:
I’m really pleased to have completed recruitment to this new, smaller Board with the appointment of very high calibre people. I believe a smaller senior team will help us reduce complexity in the organisation and make it easier for us to join up across portfolios. Now more than ever we need to be able to support Ministers in tackling the things that make the most difference to the people of Wales.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said:
My warmest congratulations to Emyr and Bernard. Their appointments complete a line-up of strong management serving the Welsh Assembly Government through the challenging times we face.

The new Board will be in place by the beginning of April. Chaired by the Permanent Secretary, the Board will include six Director Generals (DGs), together with the Chief Executive of the NHS.

The changes will be accomplished within existing resources and there will be no additional cost to the organisation's running cost budget.

Monday, 2 February 2009

A possible return to blogging and keyword activity fun

All bloggers need to take a break from time to time. Have you noticed? I've enjoyed mine and will continue to do so until I feel the compulsive urge to get back into the swing of things and post on a regular basis again.

All main contributors haven't posted for a while by mutual agreement. This has left some thinking that the blog is dead to the world, including the shy and retiring Assembly types (Lol... not dead, but resting). However, there has been a lot of interest lately in one particular post thanks to a link from Betsan Powys of the BBC.

Like Betsan, I was disappointed to hear that Christopher Glamorgan had pulled out of the tribunal against the Welsh Ministers/Welsh Assembly Government. I'm sure he had his reasons, but I can't help thinking that we've missed something special and even I was hoping to attend the hearing as a member of the public. Christopher has yet to answer my email and concern for his case, but I'll keep you posted when I return. Remember Christopher, the offer still stands and I'm sure that Matt Wardman also supports my view on this.

I got slightly bored of blogging and if I'm honest, of Welsh politics, although ongoing fiascos and the reckless should inspire posting if I had the time. Family has always been important, and also making a success of business. After all, as a self-employed person no one else is going to support me - right??

Following the large number of hits to the one post, it got me curious about blog stats, so I decided to take a look for myself. Most interest on the Christopher Glamorgan post came from the Assembly itself which was to be expected, and from local government. A look at 'visitor paths' also made me realise how widely read Betsan's blog is in the UK, which was surprising considering the topic of Welsh politics. This must be testament to the blog being hosted by the BBC and Betsan's writing style.

Another blog stat that caught my attention was that of 'keyword activity' and the interesting, sometimes strange, and frankly bizarre search terms used. One slightly controversial search term was 'Tomos Livingstone bias' and made by someone in the office of HSO Trinity Mirror Group.

These are some of the Internet search terms used (in no particular order) which ended up with the inquiring minds clicking on a link to this blog. Some are obvious. Some are amusing. Others are simply mind boggling.

  1. Miss Wagstaff
  2. Cardiff political issues
  3. Pippa Wagstaff
  4. One Wales Government
  5. Gareth Hall Welsh Assembly Government
  6. Leadership of Welsh political party
  7. Mike German Jane Hutt affair
  8. Biggest wastes of public money
  9. Chocolate cheese Switzerland
  10. Jolly roger
  11. Office relationships
  12. Welsh Labour communications officer
  13. Jonathan Evans Julie Morgan
  14. Cornock Steve Morgan campaign
  15. Welsh Assembly Llandudno jobs
  16. Swiss known for
  17. Welsh civil servant
  18. Paul Murphy sentenced Pontypridd
  19. 32% of welsh women prefer to do after 18:00
  20. Mistress Services Wales
  21. Ellis, luke amss carwyn jones
  22. Ellis, luke (amss carwyn jones)
  23. Carwyn jones luke ellis
  24. Carwyn jones luke ellis
  25. Petite welsh woman 60
  26. Matt Withers surfing
  27. Civil service dress code uk foreign office
  28. Cocks that don't fit
  29. Top ten reasons to limit debate with a troll
  30. Martyn Williams Miss Wagstaff
  31. Welsh Labour Europe nonentity
  32. Jane Wagstaff porn
  33. Jane Hutt quote
  34. Tomos Livingstone bias
  35. Alun Davies AM blog
  36. Human Resources email Welsh Assembly
  37. Rhodri Morgan dress sense
  38. Sacked civil servant
  39. Facebook farce blog
  40. Failing Welsh civil service

All I can say is keep blogging. At best, we all find it fun and informative, at its very worst... you can guess the rest.

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