By now members will be aware that the Northern Ireland Civil Service has launched an Executive Officer 2 promotion competition. While NIPSA welcomes the decision to run this competition on an internal basis NIPSA remains concerned at a number of aspects of the competition.

NIPSA has been in negotiations with Management Side on the running of this competition and the process to be adopted. During the negotiations NIPSA raised a number of concerns including the use of tests, the use of Line Managers Assessments (LMAs) and the fact that it was intended that all on-line verifications tests and interviews would be held in Belfast.

During the negotiations Management Side agreed to drop the use of LMA’s on a pilot basis, however in doing so they advised that they were proceeding with the use of tests. NIPSA, in line with Conference policy did not agree the use of testing however Management Side indicated they would be proceeding with the use of testing having trialled and refined the test process following NIPSA representation. NIPSA firmly believe this is being used to reduce numbers. It is our view that tests disadvantage older people who have been out of the educational system for some time however this argument was not accepted.

NIPSA also objected to the verification tests and interviews being held only in Belfast and believe this has the potential to disadvantage members from rural areas and those who work part-time, many of whom are women with caring responsibilities. Management has responded indicating that they do not believe that the issue of rural proofing applies to their decision on the issue of the location of tests and/or interviews. Management Side have however confirmed that they are mindful of personal circumstances and preferences and do try to accommodate these within reason. They have also stated that they will ensure that there will be flexibility on timings to allow for travel and childcare issues to be accommodated and that this would also apply to staff working alternative working patterns. Staff will be given paid time to attend the verification tests and interviews including travel time.

While NIPSA have managed through negotiations to ensure LMA’s will not be used in this promotion competition we remain concerned over other aspects, not least the use of tests however Management decided to proceed with the competition without our agreement on a number of the issues highlighted above.

Any member who believes they are disadvantaged by the decision to hold all verification tests and interviews in Belfast should raise their concerns and request that an interview/on line verification test be organised closer to home stating the reasons for this.

Alison Millar

General Secretary