Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Latest from Napo HQ

The following e-mail to all Napo members received at 16:15:-

It is clear from the Ietter issued by the Noms Chief Executive to Trusts dated 22ndNovember that the department has decided to commence a disinformation campaign against the Probation Unions. This document sets out some of the information about why the Unions (Napo/Unison and GMB with a reserved position) registered a failure to agree at last week’s shambolic meeting of the National Negotiating Council (NNC) and that notwithstanding their disgraceful behaviour, why we are not prepared to accept the ultimatums that the MoJ sought to introduce into the negotiations on the 20thNovember.

The Negotiations

The documents that were intended for consideration at the NNC were:

1.   National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections (referred to as the “Framework Document”
2.  Guidance on the Handling of Measures (referred to as Appendix A- measures are the aspects of any changes to jobs post transfer)
3.  Staff Assignment Process- the “Staff Split” (referred to as Appendix B with deals with Automatic Assignment, Annex A deals with Expressions of Interest and Annex B deals with the Appeals process).
4.   Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy (referred to as Appendix C)
The NNC is comprised of the Probation Employers with Napo and Unison forming the Trade Union Side.  At Chief Officer Grade level the arrangements comprise employers and GMB SCOOP and Napo. Both sides have acted in good faith over these last few months to try and secure provisions for continuous service, security of the Local Government Pension Scheme and its members, proper training provision, equality assessments and protection for staff beyond the point of share sale. Amongst others, they are the reasons for engaging in negotiations.  However, our view is that the MoJ, by issuing contradictory advice directly to Trusts and now seeking to enforce a dangerous timetable, has overshadowed this process by cutting corners and acting in bad faith.  We have been put under pressure to make decisions on previously unseen documents within a matter of hours and, as you would expect, we have been robust in resisting this.

Why we have registered a failure to agree

Put simply, the intervention by the Ministry of Justice meant that the NNC did not even get to a position of being able to discuss the above substantive documentation. It has also caused massive confusion and puts our members at an unacceptable risk.  Many Trusts are now doing the MoJ’s bidding by either directing or asking members to choose to work in the NPS or CRC when we have barely any information about what that will mean.
This list of missing information is by no means exhaustive:

The Staff Split for those not automatically assigned will be on the basis of whatever job you were doing on 11th November 2013.  That appears to be it and, as you would expect, this is an untenable position for various reasons, but largely because of the various roles/workloads that staff across Trusts currently undertake. We believe that the narrow window of 11th November fails to reflect this. There are also issues around staff who are currently away from work. In addition there is no guidance on offer about how this process might work, no projections of the likely numbers of staff and no equality assessment.

There are no Job Descriptions for the new organisations.  Either these do not exist or we are being denied access to them.  In being asked to choose which organisation you want to work for, members will have no idea what they are being asked to sign up to. This is unacceptable.

No Information as to locations of work.  This is vital information for members to be in possession of, but there is no word from the MoJ. We have been told that once the staff split is made there will be little immediate change but this is only up to the point of share sale in October 2014.  There has been no information forthcoming about what will happen after this.

Local Government Pension Scheme.  There is no guarantee that you will retain membership of this if you move from the NPS to a CRC or elsewhere in the Civil Service after the initial transfer. Nor is it clear whether existing staff not currently in the LGPS will be eligible to join it after transfer. The bidders for CRC contracts are not compelled to offer the LGPS to new starters which means the fund risks losing members over time and creates a two tier workforce.

There is no permanent provision for continuity of service. Continuity of service covers the benefits you have built up over time, for example: redundancy, sickness, leave, maternity and it has implications for your pension.  You might not have noticed this because if you have previously changed roles/Trusts within Probation these benefits automatically carry over. Continuity of service will only exist in the first transfer, and will cease to exist if you thereafter apply for a position in a different CRC or move between a CRC and the NPS, thus limiting member’s opportunity for career development and relocation.

Roles in the National Probation Service.  You will on transfer to the NPS become a Civil Servant, and be subject to the Official Secrets Act, Business Appointment Rules, Civil Service Code and Civil Service Management Code.  Despite repeated requests, we have not been provided with any information about the implications of this for staff. We do know that it has the potential to be restrictive in your work and your personal life, as such we believe that members should be in possession of all the facts before being assigned or opting in to the NPS.

Roles in the CRC. We have no idea who the employer will be, what their values are or what the job descriptions will look like. This could have serious implications for future pay, day to day work and professional practice standards.

Local JNC disputes and submission of individual grievances - what should members and branches do next?

Trust Chiefs and Chairs have been erroneously informed by the MoJ that no facility exists to receive notification of local JNC disputes. This must be challenged, and we are issuing separate advice about this as part of this information pack.

Trusts have also been directed by the Secretary of State to start the process of splitting the staff (staff assignment).  They may send out instructions by e-mail or letter. They will be couched in language that makes the split feel inevitable. Or, they might even be suggesting that this situation is good for you because it gives clarity and security to staff.  If you receive a letter, don’t simply respond in haste. Consider the implications for yourself and send in a well-constructed grievance outlining your concerns along with your response. Comprehensive guidance is attached on how to do this.

Tom Rendon                       Ian Lawrence
National Chair                    General Secretary

26th November 2013


  1. Thanks Jim. I was out of the office this afternoon so wouldn't otherwise have read this message.

    This has made my mind up for me. I simply cannot work for an organisation that treats its staff, and their union representatives, so shabbily. The NPS was already looking like the worst option for me (I'm one of the anonymous contributors you quoted saying this a couple of weeks ago) but there is now no way I will work for the Ministry of Justice. I consider myself to be good at my job; I've got a lot of experience and I've worked successfully with some very difficult cases over the years. But I'll be damned if I'm going to give my labour to Michael Spurr, Jeremy Wright or the overlord Grayling. I'll do what I can to bring this whole sorry shambles down, but if that doesn't work I'll plump - if I'm able - for a job in a CRC, and then work on my exit strategy from there.

    1. I think many, many colleagues are feeling much the same. For what it's worth, I think Prof Paul Senior said that he felt the ethos of probation would reside in CRC's not NPS.

      I hope it works out well for you and that you continue contributing here.



    2. weird day, information overload and no attachment to the napo email - anyone else receive their "comprehensive guidance"?

      as with anon18:30, i can' t countenance working with the moj in the light of their contemptible behaviour towards anyone and everyone. i am annoyed at the trusts' collective cowardice but it does seem that, under the radar, some have ben firing off letters to SoB Grayling - and perhaps i may yet be surprised at the extent of their as yet undisclosed railing against these insane impositions.

      red on; green on; go - bale out time. a few months of freefall and i'm sure something will crop up.

    3. Anon 18.30. If you think the above is bad wait til you see the actual documentation referred to. In the event a colleague's role doesn't fit the designated assignment process and there is no local assignment process available the MoJ advocates using a random method. It helpfully suggests either flipping a coin, pulling names out of a hat or assigning random numbers. So there you have it, the fate of you probation career could be decided on a flip of a coin. Such is the depths the MoJ have sunk to.............PS locally we favour spinning the bottle as our preferred method, seems as good as any other......

    4. emptying the bottle is the fun part... the ouija board element is just the anti-climax

  2. I think colleagues should think very carefully about the NPS, where everyone previously thought they would be "safe". Managing the high riskers now looks high risk to your future.

  3. For what it's worth, whilst I would not want 'to work for grayling', politicians come and go. Spur will come and go like others before him who merely follow ridiculous government leads. Governments will change but if your boss is a private company you will, I think, be more vulnerable and less protected. I will certainly not opt to work in the private sector. nor do I think any starry eyed old school dream that the spirit of probation will lay with private companies is very helpful at all. If you think any private company will preserve that, you're onto a loser. On the note of continuous service, it's very hard when areas like London with constant vacancies rely on qualified staff moving around. What will areas do to attract staff when the offer is bottom of the scale pay and leave? It's unworkable crap, like all of this. The sooner the Tories and grayling go, the better.

  4. This train wreck is beyond belief. Nothing good will come of it: for staff, government, offenders or the public. It is a dangerous folly that will make the Work Programme debacle look like spilt milk.

  5. Jim , Just a quick note , and I think the irony will not be lost on you.

    That dickie bird has been chirping again....

    NOMS/MoJ staff are reading this blog routinely and NAPO 's too (although that is not so consistent).

    It appears that they don't know what is happening and are gleaning information from your contributors....

    Perhaps the civil servants are worried that the propoganda on EPIC is just that and eventually as we get shafted by this prison management led junta ....so that fate will befall them too!!!

    The NOMS management has always had it in for the probation service and never enjoyed the intelectual , ethical and evidence led approach of probation folk and perhaps it is no suprise as a new head of probation is appointed so we see a change of approach, with the knives going in.

    Personally , I hope any visitor to this site see the reality of what is coming down the line and the dear wish from everybody that is not about us but about a proud and effective service that is to be vandalised by philistines.

  6. As a dedicated court officer I feel I will not have the opportunity to decide which part of the service I will go into. I have been told that it will be the NPS and not a CRC, but a Grievance will be winging it's way in when I get a letter informing me where I will be told to go!

  7. Following on from what I sense to be a thread in today's comments, I think that those in Trust management teams across the country should now have the courage to publish what - if anything - they've said in writing to the MoJ; after all, many will be the CRC lead managers and will need considerable goodwill from the staff assigned to them by the MoJ's pisspoor 11/11system. As hinted at in an earlier comment this evening, if they can show they were actively trying to resist the MoJ (albeit under cover) then perhaps their newly inherited staff complement will be more understanding?

    It seems to me that the "accept your fate or leave the game" clause imposed by the MoJ in the assignment pathway is, in fact, the only way they'll now manage to retain any staff for the NPS. I wonder if they've written in another clause to prevent staff leaving NPS by choice and then being employed by the CRC's? Maybe the MoJ read the tea-leaves and realised that experienced & costly staff might take the VR option and look to a CRC role, hence they withdrew that option? And how long might someone be cast out in the wilderness? 1 year? 3 years? Is it legal, given the ideology of a free-market economy?

    And if they want to play hardball, surely someone knows where the dirty laundry is hidden in NOMS/MoJ? Maybe they'll decide its time to get rid of the stench of sweaty weasels & do a bit of cleaning up?

    Come on, girls & boys, its KickAss time!!!

    1. I think the Min of J may well see a PO from the NPS going into a job with a CRC and taking their "business knowledge" with them as a breach of the Civil Service code

  8. Is the bottle spinning reference a joke? The post doesn't sound like it is tongue in cheek but surely that's something from a Blackadder script?