"Next week is a huge one for the Napo campaign (Campaign Bulletins, Weekly updates and latest BR memos to bring you up to speed with what's going on) We expect that Chris Grayling will signal the great probation sell off and that's why we are asking Napo members to show their anger by way of lunchtime demonstrations that day. It's not a strike but it represents an opportunity to mark this highly provocative move by the Secretary of State to push on with his agenda despite failing to provide the workforce with guarantees about their pensions, security of employment and terms and conditions and before the small matter of two more at least Parliamentary debates about his shambolic plans."
Thursday 19th September is of course the day the government has chosen to publicly advertise the vast majority of probation work for competitive tender.
Just to set the context, the relevant unions including Napo have been conducting negotiations with the employers and MoJ through the National Negotiating Council for months, but these have 'stalled' and there is a draft agreement only. Unison explain it thus:-
Talks took place at the NNC on Friday 30 August and Tuesday 4 August with a view to finalising proposals for the above agreement, in time for the trade unions to consult members prior to a meeting of the full NNC on 18 September. Negotiations were conducted in good faith, but it was not possible for the negotiators to conclude discussions in time to hit this timetable. This was acknowledged by both sides of the NNC.
In light of this, the following has been agreed:
· On 18 September a special meeting of the NNC will meet to review the outcome of the negotiations and any draft agreement, as well as reflecting on the response of UNISON’s National Probation Committee and Napo’s NEC to the outcome of the talks
· From 19 September, a 28 day consultation will commence to put the final draft agreement to UNISON and Napo members
UNISON’s National Probation Committee will come to its own view on the final proposals and will communicate this to members as part of the 28 day consultation.
In light of these developments, it will not now be possible for UNISON Probation branches and activists to consult members on the draft transfer agreement next week as planned, simply because negotiations on the draft agreement have not been concluded.
I apologise for any inconvenience that this postponement of member consultation causes, and recognise that branches and activists will have put in place arrangements for the week commencing 9 September, which will now need to be cancelled. Further information on the rescheduled consultation process, proposed for later this month, will be provided to branches and activists as soon as possible.
If I've understood correctly, as things stand at the moment, members are going to be consulted on this draft, but advised under no circumstances to discuss this with individual Trust employers from Thursday when invited to meet them. To try and avoid the inevitable confusion, Napo and Unison have issued a joint statement and each branch has communicated with members along the following lines:-
This morning I have received joint UNISON / NAPO guidance from our national UNISON officer regarding how activists and officials and members should interact with Probation Trusts during the 28 day consultation on the national transfer of staff to the new NPS / CRCs and associated protections which is due to start on the 19th of September.
There may be a certain amount of conflicting information circulating in relation to the consultation. UNISON will be making the following points clear to trust management in order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding during the consultation:
- During the 28 day consultation period, Napo and UNISON will be consulting members on the latest version of a draft National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections. This is currently under negotiation at the National Negotiating Council (NNC).
- It is not the final version and members have an opportunity in the 28 day consultation period decreed by the Justice Secretary to comment on the draft agreement and let us know what they would like changed, or improved.
- Napo and UNISON will then take members’ views back into the NNC negotiations which will have to resume following the 28 consultation period.
In light of these points UNISON / NAPO have issued the following advice to all members:
- During the same 28 consultation period, the Justice Secretary has asked Probation Trusts to consult with their staff, via the recognised trade unions, in anticipation of the transfer of staff to either the NPS or CRCs. There is a danger that this consultation will stray into the application of the draft national agreement to real people and real posts. This must not happen.
- Napo and UNISON are very clear that until we have agreed the National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections, which will not happen before the end of the 28 day consultation period, it is not possible for Trusts to have any detailed conversations with unions, or staff, locally on the split of staff into NPS or CRCs, because the methodology for the split will not have been agreed.
- Members should not enter into any one-to-one discussions with their Probation Trust in relation to the impact of the workforce split on their own circumstances during the 28 day consultation period, or give any undertakings to their employer in relation to the proposed split of the workforce This is simply because, until the split process and protections have been agreed at the NNC, neither employer, nor employee, will have the full information on which to base an individual discussion.
All Napo/UNISON engagement in these consultations/negotiations is without prejudice to our total ongoing opposition to the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation proposals.
If you are approached to discuss anything in relation to staffing, transfers or your personal circumstances with the Trust management, please contact me straight away.
So, that's how things appear to be at the moment, in a mess, but that's par for the course of an omnishambles. Word is that MoJ/Noms are not going to budge and the draft will be 'take it or leave it'. Be prepared folks for the union line to be 'it's the best we can get'.
Things could change of course and readers are advised to remain on high alert during these dark and difficult days. Just as an aside, I commented the other day that it seemed to me that many Trusts had begun preparing for TR 18 months or so ago, for instance by splitting teams into high and low risk with PO's and PSO's conveniently split in readiness. Am I correct in this regard, and if so, was it a case of Napo just not noticing?