THE casual workers policy was introduced in 2009 by the SNP administration following consultation with the recognised trades unions. It was unanimously agreed at the Joint Consultative Forum (ULF) in September 2009 and formally adopted by the Corporate and Efficient Governance Committee in November 2009. However, some councillors are now claiming they had no knowledge of this council policy.

Of course this is true for councillors first elected in May 2011. But all other councillor received a copy of the JCF papers; they received a copy of the Corporate and Efficient Governance papers; and they approved the JCF minutes at council.

The decisions of the two committees were recorded in the minutes of their meetings. It is therefore simply not credible for councillors who served between 2007 and 2011 to claim they didn't know. If this was the case then they are essentially admitting they either don't read their papers; they don't understand the reports they receive; or they don't really understand the decisions they take.

Personally, I don't think any West Dunbartonshire Council councillors are lazy or stupid, but what is clear is the Casual Workers Policy introduced four years ago and approved unanimously by councillors and trades unions, is working; it meets current legislative requirements and there's no immediate requirement to change it.

The issue of so called 'zero hour contracts' has made the news both nationally and locally. The main concern was some employers required workers to be available but with no guarantee they would be given any work. Some employers even required staff to come into work but would send workers home at the start or part way through the shift. I am pleased to confirm West Dunbartonshire Council doesn't use 'zero hour contracts'.

Instead the council uses occasional workers in line with the 'casual workers policy'.

Casual workers are not council employees, they are individuals who work on an 'ad hoc' basis and are therefore not obliged to take work and not disadvantaged if they decline offers of work.

Some examples of where the council uses occasional workers are: (i) events staff; (ii) leisure services; (iii) care services; (iv) supply teachers; and (v) additional staff for elections. Occasional workers have an important role ensuring that vital council services are not disrupted.

On a brighter note, can I take this opportunity to say a big well done to the pupils, parents and teachers who have helped record the best exam results this area has ever achieved.

It is worth reminding ourselves, and particularly those who like to talk this area down, that 22 pupils in S4 achieved eight band 1s at Standard Grade and 12 achieved five A Grade passes at Higher in S5. In S6, two pupils achieved three A passes at Advanced Higher and one candidate achieved a remarkable four A Band 1 Passes at Advanced Higher.

I know how hard everyone is working to improve attainment in West Dunbartonshire and it is really pleasing that this activity is having a real impact.