During World War I a House of Commons committee under the chairmanship of J H Whitely was established to consider the question of labour relations in the United Kingdom. Known thereafter as the Whitley Committee it recommended the creation of Joint Industrial Councils in order to permanently improve relations between the employer and the employed. Where such councils were established they became known as Whitely Councils, and whereas the bulk of the private sector ignored the whole thing, the main Civil Service unions and the government reached an ageement in 1919 on a constitution for the Civil Service National Whitley Council, which remains the main forum for wage bargaining and other forms of horse-trading between the Civil Service Unions and their employers, the government.
The National Whitley Council still operates in accordance with its original terms of reference, that is, it concerns itself with;
- The provision of the best means for utilising the ideas and experience of the staff.
- The means for securing to the staff a greater share in and responsibility for the determination and observance of the conditions under which their duties are carried out.
- The determination of the general principles governing conditions of service e.g. recruitment, hours, promotion, discipline, tenure, remuneration and superannuation.
- The encouragement of the further education of civil servants and their training in higher administration and organization.
- The improvement of office machinery and organization and the provision of opportunities for the full consideration of suggestions by the staff on this subject.
- To propose legislation so far as it is has a bearing upon the position of civil servants in relation to their employment.