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Welsh Government consults on draft Bill putting partnership working on formal footing

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on a new Bill intended to put partnership working on a formal footing to improve work in Wales.

It said the draft Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill would help the country recover from the impacts of the pandemic and build back fairer.

The legislation 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,” the Welsh Government said.

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It added that social partnership was 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.”

Cllr Philippa Marsden, Welsh Local Government Association 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.”

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.”

The consultation is open until 23 April. Responses can be submitted here.

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