Angus CouncilTel: 03452 777 778

APPENDIX III to the minute of the meeting of the Education Committee of 27 August 1996 (Article 1(d) refers)

MINUTE of SPECIAL MEETING of the JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (TEACHERS) held in The Cross, Forfar on Monday 3 June 1996 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Education Committee Representatives

Councillors BRIAN MILNE (Convener), HELEN ANGUS, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, Councillors WALLIE LEASK, GEORGE NORRIE, SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST.

Teachers Representatives

PETER ANDREWS, DAVID DRYSDALE, JIM FALCONER, BRIAN McHARDY, JOE McKELVIE (as substitute for Lesley Anderson), ALICE McLEOD and ARTHUR PRITCHARD.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. SMOKING AT WORK POLICY

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of the Committee held on 22 May 1996, there was submitted a draft Report by the Director of Personnel, which she proposed to submit to the Council's Personnel and Property Committee on 11 June 1996. The Report proposed to advise that Committee of a need to adopt a policy on smoking at work and outlined the medical and legal issues to be considered. At this stage, the Report recommended the adoption of a policy prohibiting smoking in all Council premises.

The Convener reminded the teachers’ representatives of his assurance that any proposals for a Council policy on smoking at work which affected teachers' conditions of service would be brought before this Committee to enable the teachers’ representatives to give their views.

Mr Andrews thanked the Convener for calling this special meeting and indicated that the teachers queried the size and nature of the problem of smoking at work with regard to schools. He considered that the existing policy adopted by Tayside Regional Council worked satisfactorily and he felt that Angus Council should continue with it meantime. While he believed that a balance had to be struck between smokers and non-smokers, he said that teachers favoured retaining designated areas within schools and suggested that they be clearly marked with appropriate warnings and disclaimers to avoid potential difficulties over the Council's legal liabilities. He pointed out that teachers often required to stay within their workplace for long periods and felt that smokers had rights in such circumstances. Finally, he suggested that it would be counter-productive to link the policy to disciplinary procedures.

Councillor Leask referred to EU Directives and the increasing likelihood of courts finding in favour of non-smokers in any litigation. He felt that the weight of evidence now supported a complete ban on smoking at work.

Provost Mrs Duncan said that the Council wished to avoid a situation where employees stood outside their workplace smoking as she felt this would be bad for the Council's image.

Mr Pritchard said that there was now a minority of EIS members who smoked and yet the feeling of his union was that the existing policy was a satisfactory compromise. He also raised further issues in relation to "non-designated" areas in some schools and asked for clarification as to the "reasonable" assistance which the Council proposed to give to people who wished to stop smoking.

Mr McKelvie concurred with his colleagues in that, so far as his association was concerned, no members had complained about the existing policy.

In response to the various comments made by the teachers’ representatives, the Director of Personnel commented that at a recent meeting, other unions had accepted the inevitability of a complete ban on smoking. Clearly, there were exceptions in relation to social work and these had been built into the proposed policy. However, it was a fact that the trend in society, and indeed in law, was towards a complete ban on smoking within the workplace and the policy attempted to protect the Council's position as well as promote good health. He also pointed out that the legal advice he had received was that disclaimers were of no effect in law. On the question of assistance to smokers, he outlined the proposal to involve the Tayside Health Board's Health Promotion Group and the setting up of classes for smokers wanting to give up their habit.

Mr McKelvie and Mr Falconer indicated that their impression of the meeting referred to by Mr Ritchie was that there was a lack of meaningful consultation and no consensus was in fact arrived at.

Mr McHardy asked that the proposal to implement the policy on 1 September 1996 should be deferred, particularly to allow staff working in schools time to adjust to any new regime on smoking.

Mr Andrews concluded the teachers’ representations by saying that they were trying to raise practical issues which would arise from the implementation of the proposed policy and, on balance, they felt that the existing policy should be retained.

The Convener closed the meeting by thanking the teachers for their views and indicated that they would be considered by the Personnel and Property Committee of the Council on 11 June 1996.