Saturday, 5 October 2013

Decision Time

The ballot papers are in the post and Napo members have a difficult and uncomfortable decision to ponder on this weekend. Being a responsible profession who take their work with clients and helping protect the public very seriously indeed, industrial action of any kind, let alone striking, is extremely unusual and action not taken lightly. I think I'm right in saying there have only been two strikes in 107 years.

Unfortunately for us, such a responsible stance can be misunderstood by government as an indication, or invitation even, to walk all over a workforce with impunity. With Chris Grayling's Transforming Rehabilitation omnishambles proposals we not only have that, but a plan to destroy a whole profession and ethos, just as it is about to be celebrated in London next week with the World Congress of Probation conference.

As joint host of the conference, the Minister of Justice will be delivering a keynote speech, but sadly will not be allowing bemused delegates to question his reasons for destroying a world class high-performing public service. Of course we know there are absolutely no evidence-based reasons, it is purely an ideological move borne of the desire to shift public services into the clutches of private contractors in order to cut costs.

Interestingly, this was confirmed recently in an article written by Richard Garside on the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies website:- 

Transforming Rehabilitation, in an important sense, has little to do with rehabilitation and a lot to do with a particular view on how the government should manage the marketplace in public services. 

Sadly that pretty much sums up our situation. For all the bollocks and rhetoric about TR being concerned with 'bringing down stubbornly high reoffending rates', which it won't of course, it's actually about 'managing the marketplace in public services'. It's about handing over the majority of our work to privateers and dodgy companies such as G4S, Serco, A4E and Interserve who have all proved to be adept at fiddling figures and cooking the books at public expense.

It also means money has to be saved through 'restructuring' and 'innovative ways of working'. So as we know from the London Unpaid Work privatisation with Serco it will inevitably be redundancies, increased workloads, unsafe practices and worse terms and conditions for all. It cannot be anything else because 'efficiencies' have to be made and every contractor whether Eddie Stobart - yes really - or a spun-out probation mutual will have to do the same in order that their bid is competitive. 

It's extremely sad that things have ended up like this for us, but there doesn't seem to be any alternative and I think we have a wider public duty to resist these daft, dangerous and ill-thought-out plans by every means possible. Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence sums it up on his latest blog yesterday:-

It's time to say 'NO' by saying 'YES' 

Ballot material will be hitting your post boxes from tomorrow morning so I have no need to rehearse the plea that is contained in the statement urging you to take part and why it is vital that you do so. All I will add at this stage is that Napo would never ask you to take action of this kind unless we saw it as the only chance of defeating such a serious threat to your jobs and careers as the one that confronts you now. 

Please vote 'YES' to both questions and ensure that you encourage your workplace Napo colleagues to do the same. A low turnout will be a massive boost for Grayling and company and I cannot believe that you want that to happen.

      

34 comments:

  1. Duplicitous - good word that and sums up everything about this Government....now looking to scrap incremental payments in the NHS, too expensive. I just listened to a debate on Radio about it and nobody mentioned - rewarding experience and retention of staff - however, when excusing the massive, salaries, bonuses and pay off's given to their mates, it is all about retaining the best and most capable or they'll 'go and work somewhere else'...I feel a loud and clear message on its way to Downing Street, nurses etc are also well sought after, all over the world, you jerks.

    Trying to remain upbeat and this blog and the contributors help, but I am also aware of colleagues who are tired of fighting and eagerly awaiting the "lucrative" redundancy packages that are supposedly being put together".

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    1. No lucrative redundancy packages are being put together. The MoJ won't sanction anything lucrative unless their back is against the wall. There are no agreements in place and references to 102 weeks of redunancy pay are Napo's aspirations. If Napo is perceived as weak, their members will be treated contemptuously by the MoJ and this will be reflected in redundancy terms. Anyone who thinks a No vote is remotely in their self-interest is deluded and has no understanding of power. The weak do no inherit the earth. A Yes vote is not going to stop TR, but if resounding it may help to negotiate the best surrender terms available. If someone is tired of fighting they are tired of life...

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    2. Also remember that the employer is not under any obligations to accept an application for voluntary redundancy.

      I agree with Jim that it is an uncomfortable decision to vote 'Yes' for industrial action, but as far as I'm concerned it was far from being a difficult one.

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    3. There will be some CEO kicking around this process without chairs to sit at - they will get an undisclosed pay off and a gagging order otherwise they will find it too easy to "wee in the well" !! There will be no other way to get rid of them.

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  2. On Thursday Lord Beecham is to raise a Private Notice Question:-

    "To ask HMG why they have halted the triennial review of probation trusts in the face of the House of Lords amendments to the Offender Rehabilitation Bill which would require the approval of both houses to any change to the probation service, and which the House of Commons has yet to consider".

    What might be the answer to that be I wonder?

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    1. What is a private notice question? And what can come from it?

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    2. It's a question that can be asked and requires the relevent minister to provided a statement in response. It's also known as an 'Urgent Question' and permission to ask it will only be granted if its deemed to be of 'great public importance'.

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    3. I hoped there would be a simple answer on the Parliament website but if there is I haven't found it.

      Click the links for information

      Here is an example: - http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2009/01/private-notice-question/

      I recall this issue being mentioned about the time parliament recessed - I think the reason, the review is not being done is because the issue has been considered in parliament in the manner of a review - of course that is evasive but by getting it on the agenda AGAIN it will give Peers the opportunity to comment on what is happening - (I hope) to a limited extent.

      Most importantly as Beecham is the Labour probation spokesman (& long time magistrate and former chair of employer's side of Probation national negotiation committee {I am almost sure}) it will give the Labour Party another chance to say what they will do in the event of them forming a government after the next general election - in the way they have said they will review HS2 and other projects BUT not TR.

      It also indicates it is worth probation folk communicating with Peers if they have any contacts.

      Andrew Hatton

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    4. Re comment at 10:49

      Sorry, please ignore it. Its already happened earlier in the year (I think).
      But on Tuesday a pre appointment meeting with Paul McDowell the prefered choice for Chief Inspector for probation is happening.
      Sorry again-age is a terrible thing really.

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    5. No apology needed - maybe folk will get their constituency MPs to ask Private Notice Questions - it is a way of getting more exposure nationally for the shambles that is Transforming Rehabilitation.

      Unless it can be stopped before implementation there will be MANY expensive casualties and not just to the careers of dedicated probation professionals of whatever profession they represent - admin - IT and all the various specialist workers involved with criminals.

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  3. How soon will the CRC and Deputy Directors be appointed?
    That will show us the real direction of the Omnishambles....Will they be civil servants who have been involved in Graylings failings or probation chiefs taking the shilling?
    What about the privateers pitching for the contracts , some way to go yet but I don't here any noises about intentions, are they keeping their powder dry OR are they not bothering ?
    Look at the facts , if you don't have the numbers to compete you don't have a COMPETITION.......perhaps NAPO could pull something out of the bag here ...make the package so unattractive to bidders with disruptive staff and no cooperation.
    VOTE YES to industrial action to send a strong and clear message to the mandarins that the staff are up for the fight. Only then will there be a chance to slow this run away train.

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    1. Regarding your competition point , this is what the deadline is

      "Tier I potential providers
      Tier I potential providers will contract directly with the Ministry of Justice. If you wish to participate in the competition as a potential Tier I supplier you will need to register for the Authorities e-Sourcing Portal.
      Once you are registered the MoJ will provide you with the relevant Pre-Qualification Questionnaire documentation.
      The deadline for submission of Pre-Qualification Questionnaires is noon on 31 October 2013."

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  4. voting papers arrived as stated and I have voted YES.

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  5. I (SPO) have voted YES as has my (PO) wife.

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  6. Jim,

    Seems that J Wright has already boxed off the triennial review of PT's -see below-but the parliamentary/legal scrutiny of ORB following amendment NEEDS urgent debate- Lobby next week as you point out- with 50k NHS marchers outside Tory Conference in M/chester largely ignored by media-tall order -

    CG addressing the WCP on the 9 th October - even they are gagged to avoid international embarrassment!!- JSC grilling ' uber - probation reform friendly Nacro CEO who is preferred candidate for Probation Inspectorate...

    PS is being fragmented, lied to, taken advantage of, abused & no doubt in light of almost universal craven corporate silence now being used to leverage ' new careers ' in NPS/CRC for top table.. my heart goes out to front line colleagues who daily have to work in this toxic atmosphere...

    Lets make out voice felt -in coming weeks!

    Regards
    Mike



    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/July_2013/17-July-2013/21.JUSTICE-Triennial-Review-Probation-Trusts.pdf.pdf

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    1. Thanks for the link to the Statement from Jeremy Wright - that is what I had in mind when I posted earlier

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  7. Yes vote for me.

    I'm thinking of getting some T-shirts/badges made with Chris Graylings face on and a slogan underneath for when we strike.

    At the moment I have 'Chris Grayling...lying c*nt' which I feel pretty much sums up my feelings.

    Any suggestions for any more :)

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  8. what about 'you don't know what your doing'

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  9. Please STOP the personal attacks ( and using misogynist terms), we are a professional worth fighting for and the values of our profession are diminished when we behave in this way. Sorry but that's what I believe. Oh and yes I support strike action.

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    1. I agree - lets hope Obi Wan comes up with something that's not offensive.

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    2. I don't think Grayling is deserving of the controversial appellation, as in the wrong context it is misogynist. But I can sympathise with the strength of feeling that framed it. It is frustrating when the other cannot be won over with rational argument. It is frustrating when faced with arrogance, when what you prize is trashed and threatened with extinction. Sometimes, though, it may be appropriate get personal. Grayling is a right-winger and his personal and ideological convictions drive his politics. We have seen so many former politicians join the private criminal justice sector in recent times. I wonder where Grayling will end up, as these days once a politican knows they can make better money they don't tend to hang around parliament, as they did in the old days.

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  10. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2445408/Probation-officer-Des-Lashimba-appeared-Channel-4-Sex-Box-faces-disciplinary-action.html

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry - it sounds like a ridiculous programme.

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    1. It in no way represents the service. In fact his participation was keept from the service.
      I have two thoughts really. Firstly the programme sounds vile, and not something I want to see on TV.
      Secondly, with the struggles the service is currently embroiled with, hes obviously given no thought as to his colleagues or the negative publicity it might attract to the service.

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    2. The Interview I heard about it on Radio 4 sounded as if it is a serious attempt to deal with sex in the media in a healthy way - rather how probation workers try to work with clients where sex is problematical.

      Hopefully there will not be a media storm about his occupation and his employers will take a constructive approach.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01hjnbd

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    3. To be perfectly honest it's news to me that there are still PO's in court - I thought the job had become PSO only both at Mags and Crown. Possibly an academic point, but I'd like to think that whatever grade, they had more bloody sense. Dreadful, really dreadful.

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    4. I agree Jim it's dreadful. Yet I find it interesting that its because the silly so and so is a probation officer that he's made headlines. The other participants would have been employed.
      Maybe its that probation is perceived as such a highly proffessional occupation. I'd like to think that was the reason. I'd also like to think that such a diabolical programme would be the focus of any future media debate, and not the individuals that took part. I mean why would anyone...

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  11. Oh at last some publicity for Probation.... What next, the feared Employment Tribunal ......

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  12. Difficult and uncomfortable decision? Don't think so, Jim. My voting paper was filled in (yes) and back in the postbox almost before the postie had finished his deliveries in our (very short) road - THAT'S how strongly I feel about the butchery of the Probation Service.
    Deb

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  13. Express 'Chris Grayling hypocrite on justice'.

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  14. 1% pay raise for NHS staff? Sorry ladies and gents but things are tough right now and EVERY PENNY counts.

    Mirror:- LIAM FOX EXPENSES FARCE: POLITICIAN CLAIMS 3p FOR CAR JOURNEY OF JUST 100 YARDS.

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    1. Yes very interesting story especially as it is said Liam Fox has been rehabilitated enough to be considered for a new cabinet position as part of David Cameron's reshuffle expected anytime soon.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/liam-fox-claims-3p-expenses-2342861

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  15. PSO's have been doing a very professional job of servicing the courts for about the last 5 years. However, over the last 12 months, my Trust has decided the role is non - specialist and have pulled back PSO Court Duty Officers to staff the Low / Med risk teams created to match the model desired by new CRC's. Court is now manned by different officers on each day of the week . . .both PO's and PSO's, many having had no training at all in Breach matters. As the Court role will remain with the new NPS, I think this is a deliberate attempt at ensuring PO's can lay claim to jobs in Court and just reinforces my belief that there is no place for PSO's in the new NPS.

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    1. Court non-specialist? What crap. It was bad enough when all PO's did it on a rota basis back when I started. The job is going to hell in a hand cart.

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  16. Surely the contributor at 18.46 meant to say "Staffed" we haven "Manned" anything since 1980.....in the scheme of things, not a massive issue, but then I'm not a man!.

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