MEMBERS' WELFARE was on the agenda again at last week's Council meeting, where approval was granted for the setting up of a member services committee.
The committee is to investigate the viability of extending ICEFLOE, the equal opportunities forum, into a UK wide 'professional practices network' providing advice on job change, redundancy, working conditions and other employment issues.
The proposal was first introduced by Chief Executive Mike Casebourne in response to NCE 's call for action on civil engineer's salaries (NCE 13 July), when pay was placed as a high priority on any future member service.
However, in last week's announcement the issue of pay has slipped from the list. A statement from the chief executive makes it clear that the issue of pay is to be pursued elsewhere.
'The President has already made a stand on this important issue, and it needs the authority of the President to lobby members and make a real impact. We have to minimise the danger that salary issues could swamp the efforts of the member services committee, ' says the report.
Vice President Michelle McDowell is to head the investigative committee, and sees the goal as being 'the establishment of a small, caring, communicative network which responds quickly and helpfully to the needs of individual members within each Local Association'.
How the service is to be delivered to the membership is one of the main issues to be investigated by the committee, but it is considered unlikely that the existing membership helpdesk will be able to provide support.
As there is currently no additional budget for specialist recruitment, a cost effective solution may be to use practising engineers through the existing ICEFLOE system, expanded to a regional level.
The question then is whether engineers with no specific counselling skills will be able to provide a service of any real value.