Well, we now know the reason because all the energy has been put into dancing to the MoJ/NOMS tune in the form of negotiations concerning the 'human resource implications' of TR. Call me simple, but I fail to see how you can be fully engaged in a campaign of opposition, at the very same time as you are negotiating the terms of surrender?
All Napo members received an e-mail yesterday 28th August informing them as follows:-
As in our last update message, members will know that we have been in negotiations with the PA (probation employers) and Ministry of Justice officials over the human resource implications of the government’s plans for privatisation. Engaging in this is an essential (albeit unpleasant) part of our work as a trade union. It means we can attempt to secure the best deal for members in the worst case scenario. All of this takes place against a backdrop of vigorous campaigning against the sell off and is therefore something of a tightrope walk. It is important to remember that nothing is yet agreed. A draft document of broad principles, in which we are aiming to enshrine a commitment to national collective bargaining, no compulsory redundancy, protection of terms and conditions etc, is ready to be put to Napo’s National Executive Committee for agreement or otherwise. A proposal on the “staff split” is still subject to negotiations.
Basically Napo have taken the pragmatic view that it was preferable to negotiate rather than have terms dictated by MoJ/NOMS. I've seen the documents outlining what has been tentatively agreed so far because someone has kindly sent them to me.
The argument will be one very familiar to members 'it is the best that can be achieved in the circumstances'. The circumstances being a membership that has no appetite for a serious fight and a union leadership unable or unwilling to lead a serious fight. A meaningless Indicative Ballot because we are not allowed to know the turnout. And please, lets not re-rehearse the arguments about how we got here and it's all the fault of apathetic members. Been there, done that and it doesn't progress matters.
We will never know what might have happened had Napo decided not to negotiate and instead put all their time and effort into a spirited campaign that actively engaged the membership and wider public. Extraordinarily, their actions have in fact disengaged much of the membership who have abandoned the Napo forum pages and instead expressed frustration and irritation here.
The timetable for the membership to be consulted and the NEC to make a decision is just too daft for words - two weeks - but as the e-mail to members says:- "we have successfully managed to extend the deadline from the end of August 2013 to allow for our own democratic structures."
At least one person has speculated on the likely attendance at an NEC to be held on a Monday that involves for many the start of the new school year for their children. Is it really feasible for branches to organise meetings and gauge the opinion of members in just a fortnight on a subject so important, complicated and fundamental to their futures?
No doubt this is a topic to which I will return in the coming days and pick over in detail exactly what the deal is that members are being asked to sign up to. As ever, readers comments and contributions will be most welcome.