Friday, 15 November 2013

Omnishambles Update 26

Regular readers will have discovered that tailgunner's weather report over on the Napo forum proved remarkably accurate with only this short update posted at 18:34 GMT:- 

The Probation Association has issued guidance to it's Employer members (the Trusts) today not dissimilar to advice contained in last nights weather report. I.e. Read and assimilate NOMS documentation, ask questions and do preliminary work but do not commence the actual assignment of staff, pending the meeting of the NNC next Wednesday. Napo, SCOOP/GMB and UNISON have all issued similar advice. Some Trusts have written generic letters to staff indicating that it is their intention to issue assignment letters. That may be slightly unfortunate but even so it is hoped that they will hold off from actual implementation. Everyone will need to stay alert for letters being sent out but there is now some optimism that good sense will prevail through to next Wednesday. The three unions will then, with the Employers, have to decide whether the overall package on offer, associated with Staff Transfer, is acceptable and can be ratified.

The weather has been most uncertain this past 24 hours but threatened storms appear, so far, to be passing to the south.

But it's anyone's guess what the actual situation is in any location with confusion, rumour and misinformation seeming to be widespread. This increasingly appears to be 'situation normal' for operation omnishambles and colleagues are advised to keep calm, carry on, but stay tuned in. Are allocation letters being issued, or not? I notice that Tom Rendon, Napo National Chair, was tweeting last night:- 

Despite no agreement reached between employer, MOJ and unions transfer scheme to be implemented by gov't. Politics over people!

MoJ tries to impose chaos of fragmenting Probation Service without proper agreement, thought or pilot. Branches must register disputes. 

The Napo work-to-rule guidance eventually arrived yesterday morning:- 

Initial Guidance on Action Short of Strike Action

As the Government is still pressing ahead with its dangerous Transforming Rehabilitation Plans, Napo will be instigating its action short of strike action.  Following a hugely successful 24 hour strike earlier this month Napo has served notice on the employers that we will be taking further industrial action in the form of action short of strike which will commence on the 14th November 2013. 

Action short of strike action is a key part of our campaign.  To kick start our action we are, at this time, asking all members working in the probation service in England and Wales to work their contracted hours and no more. However, this action is much more than a work to rule. The flexibility and goodwill of members, beyond their contractual obligations, which the employers have relied upon for so many years, will also be withdrawn during the duration of the dispute.  Over the course of the dispute Napo will be incrementally adding to the types of action we will be asking members to participate in, and further advice will be sent out accordingly.

Please remember when working your contracted hours you will not have any money deducted as you are fulfilling your contractual obligations.

Why Action Short of Strike?
Napo is embarking upon action short of strike action to ensure maximum disruption to the Governments plans for the privatisation of the Probation Service in England and Wales. This will demonstrate that the probation service operates on the goodwill of people to keep things going.  This guidance details what action we are asking members to take at this time, it is only the start of action short of strike action.  Further action will be notified to members in future circulars.

What we are asking members to do:

Work your hours and no more

Do not work longer than your contracted hours for the duration of the action i.e. 37 hours per week.  You may work flexibly within your weekly hours and flexi-hours arrangements where these exist (providing you are on a contract that allows flexible working arrangements).

You must keep a record of the hours you have worked each day and make sure that you are completing timesheets to demonstrate that you have worked your contracted hours.

How do I know what are my contracted hours?
Most members in the Probation Service in England and Wales will be working 37 hours per week or 148 hours in every four weeks for probation officer grades.  To find out your contracted hours please refer to your contract of employment. 

What to do when you have completed your hours.

It is important that you should perform all your normal duties, if you cannot get them done in your contractual hours you should inform management that you have too much work for a normal working week and ask them for a formal written response setting out how they intend to address the overload.

The work to rule does not mean that duties should not be done – it is simply a question of when to do them, and not exceeding the maximum hours stipulated in your contract.  If a particular task must be completed by a specific deadline in that week, you should complete the task.  However, if this is not the case, you will not be acting in breach of your contract if you stop working and resume the uncompleted tasks the following week.  Members are asked to use their professional judgement when completing tasks.

A model letter (appendix 1) is attached which members can use to give to their line manager asking what tasks should be prioritised in order that you do not go over your contracted hours.

For members with line management responsibility, you will receive these letters from your staff. Our advice is for you to assist in prioritisation of work and send a similar letter to your line manager. We are all in the same boat and the idea is to escalate excess work all the way up the line to senior management and then NOMS.

Will I have pay deducted for working my contracted hours?
No, as you are working to your contract you will not have any pay deducted for following this action.

Can I be disciplined for working my contracted hours?
Remember, it is not the intention of this action to see members subject to disciplinary action.  Your employer should not threaten you with any kind of punitive action for working your contracted hours.  This action is perfectly legal, if you are put under undue pressure or coercion by your employer to withdraw from the action, you should ask the manager concerned to put their instructions in writing and inform your Napo rep immediately. If you need support or advice contact your local representative.

What about Non Members?
If you are a non-member or know of non-members that wish to take part in the action, we strongly advise they must join Napo before doing so.  Advise them to complete an application form and send it to the Branch Membership Secretary.

Appendix 1 

To whom it may concern,

As you will be aware, Napo has served notice to Trusts that its members will be taking action short of strike from 14th November 2013. This action includes working to contracted hours. As a member of Napo I am actively participating in this campaign. My contracted hours are ..... per week / .... per month.

I attach a copy of my timesheet which illustrates that I have fulfilled my contractual hours for this period. I have outstanding pieces of work that must be completed by ...... As my line manager please can you advise me how best to prioritise my workload whilst still adhering to my contracted hours. 


I note that Russell Webster late yesterday advised by twitter that, for whatever reason, the BBC had decided to postpone the Radio5live and Newsnight items on the Serco London Unpaid Work contract "for several weeks." I know their share price has taken a hammering and investors are getting jittery about profits warnings, but whats going on at the BBC? 

Yesterday was the deadline for the PQQ stage in the sell-off of probation so the MoJ will shortly be able to judge just how jittery the market really is over the brave new world of probation privatisation. I hear that Chris Grayling's big hope for the new mutuals to win a prime contract will see A4E chosen as the key partner for Sarah Billiald's Kent, Surrey and Sussex's Co:Here enterprise:- 

After a 12pm teleconference to the whole of Surrey and Sussex, I'm not sure what happened to Kent as it was their chief Sarah Billiald speaking to us all about the mutual. A very hard sell talking about how we would own the mutual, she constantly forgot to remind us that we would only own our share and not the share of the investors, who were announced today. 

Putting in £20 million are A4E, the failed Work Programme contractors, I guess they will be telling us that they have learnt their lesson and want to work with experienced professionals to make a difference to society :-0

Puting in the £6 million part of the Probation Trust bid was Bridges Ventures

They are apparently funded by Big Society Capital

We have been told that the staff will have 33.3% of the business and be an equal partner to A4E and Bridges Ventures who will each also have 33.3% of the mutual. How A4E have settled for 33.3% when putting in £20m or whether these figures are yet to actually be finalised is yet to fully be revealed. It was insinuated that this was settled but I am not wholly convinced at the current time.

Bridges Ventures apparently did the due diligence check on A4E and were happy that the 2009 Fraud was due to the individuals and not systematic practices, makes me think that the scapegoats have paid their price for that one. The scapegoats were obviously sacked because it was their fault and not the fault of A4E, does that sound familiar business practice.

We know that other potential 'mutual' bids are in trouble - I've heard of a 'u-turn' by Shaw Trust in the West Country - and it will be interesting to see how they all fair, particularly in West Yorkshire, another mutual that the MoJ would like to succeed I suspect. But there's bound to be stiff opposition from the likes of Interserve, who will want to build on their new experience delivering the Work Programme, and take advantage of the travails besetting the likes of G4S and Serco. 

In these difficult and deeply depressing times, keep sharing information and looking out for each other. It's great to see new life in the Napo forum and this blog now attracts a tad under 3,000 hits daily. Thanks for reading and contributing guys!



    1. Damaging scandals are raising questions on how the third-largest listed private sector employer runs its empire.

      On an overcast Friday evening on a rundown suburban street in Boston, Lincolnshire, a part-time plumber and a retired policeman are sitting in a large white van outside a cell-block, waiting to hear from the police. In black bulletproof vests, smart black trousers and white shirts, they look like police officers. But their van is emblazoned with the words “G4S – working with local policing” and the epaulettes on their uniforms carry the red, white and black logo of the private security company above that of Lincolnshire Police.
      This is the frontline of part-privatised policing, where police officers still make the arrests but G4S staff go to the scene, drive offenders away, and later process them for fingerprints and other paperwork in the company’s own “custody suites”. “We tell offenders we are just a taxi service,” says Julian Davis, the ex-policeman on duty for G4S. “It helps defuse the tension.”

      This is a taster - read the whole article!

  2. Difficult to say whether it was genuinely a u-turn by the Shaw Trust in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall - or a guerilla raid on professional expertise and technical knowledge that senior managers were utterly fooled by. Shaw Trust now bidding on their own as a prime and throwing scraps from the high table to what is hurriedly being rebranded as a Community Interest Company, all without any meaningful engagement with, or communication to, frontline staff.

  3. Ex PO here (again): One of the things I don't get about the TR operation is the seeming silence of the Judiciary, magistrates and Judges alike. I would have thought they'd be up in arms.

    1. Me too - but maybe they never had much time for us before! I can't believe they can't tell the difference between a real PSR and an OASys-generated PSR - but maybe they never read the bloody things either!

  4. Poor old Trusts - cui exhibetis vos servos ad obediendum, servi estis eius.

  5. When you obey somone like slaves, you become his slaves.

    1. Romans, Bible. Always impressed by the level of literacy on this blog. Makes a refreshing change from the banalities of the identikit shiny foreheaded Tory boys.

  6. Looking through the various websites of the alleged bidders with made-up-names, they all seem to be predatory and serial parasites - either bankers with an eye on free money or refugees from the shite welfare-to-work project looking for the next fat cheque. And they don't look like they're short of a bob or two. Here's a few in their own words:

    "Big Society
    * Sir Ronald Cohen is Chair of Big Society Capital. He is founder Chairman of The Portland Trust and Bridges Ventures. He also founded the organisations: Social Finance UK, US and Israel. Sir Ronald was the founding Partner and former Chairman of Apax Partners, one of the world’s leading private equity investment groups.
    * Sir Richard Lambert, former Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, currently Chancellor of Warwick University and senior independent adviser to Deutsche Bank.
    * Ian Davis is Non-Executive Director of BP plc, Rolls Royce plc and Johnson & Johnson. He is also an Adviser to Apax Partners LLP, a Non-Executive member of the Cabinet Office Board and a Non-Executive Director of Teach For All.
    * Peter Holbrook is Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK. Prior to taking this role he was the founding CEO of Sunlight Development Trust,
    * Helen Stephenson is Director of the Office for Civil Society and Government Innovation Group. (i.e. a very senior civil servant working with the Cabinet - so no conflict there then?).

    Shaw Trust – “In 2009, Shaw Trust completed a successful merger with Employment Opportunities, a UK based welfare to work organisation. In 2012, Shaw Trust and Careers Development Group (CDG) announced a merger of the two organisations, which was formalised in 26 September 2012.”
    * Jacquie Smallwood – “Jacquie brings to the Trust over thirty years of experience within the welfare to work sector, most recently at MAXIMUS where she was Chief Operating Officer.”
    * Jude Sheeran – “Jude first joined Shaw Trust’'s executive team as integration director in September 2012 following the merger with Careers Development Group.”

    * Chris Blackwell, Managing Director - Chris joined MAXIMUS in January 2013 as Managing Director. Chris brings more than ten years of extensive experience in the welfare-to-work industry
    * Robert started in the welfare-to-work industry in 2004 as an Advisor at Ingeus on the Flexible New Deal programme. During his seven years at Ingeus, Robert held numerous management roles
    * Steve - Prior to MAXIMUS, Steve spent 11 years with A4e and eight years working in Employment Service/Jobcentre Plus."

    Ambulance chasers the lot of them.

    How did it come to this? My (almost) 25 years carrer in a proud & noble profession sold wholesale to pack of weasels by the SoB Grayling.

    Obey like a Slave? Nope, there'll be no shades of Grayling in my world.

    I hope the Probation Trust management teams & board members across England & Wales are thoroughly ashamed of themselves, and that the dreadful consequences they have conspired to facilitate are burned into their consciences (assuming they have a conscience - there I go again, always thinking the best of people; always hoping for the better).

  7. What would happen if we all just walked away? If, come Monday morning, there were no trained probation staff to write reports, go to court, work with offenders and man approved premises etc etc. Would Grayling and his ambulance-chasing zombies be so smug then? Would his world takeover plans be derailed? Would the potential markets take flight? Would the public suddenly realise they were doomed and panic?

    1. Ah what if?.................

      If you can fail to think when all about you
      can see your errors and point them out to you,
      If you trust yourself when professionals all doubt you,
      And fail to understand their doubting too;
      If you can fail and not be tired by failing,
      And lie about, whilst still denying lies,
      And being hated, spend your time denying,
      And don’t look good, nor be remotely wise:

      If you can’t reason, and make dogma your master;
      if you can’t think, and believe it makes you no less;
      If you can cause both cock-up and disaster
      And treat those two impostors as success;
      If you can’t comprehend that what you’ve spoken
      Show you and all your peers to be such fools,
      If you ensure that which works gets broken,
      Placing public protection in the hands of greedy fools.

      If you can use statistics that are broken,
      Claiming failure where we do not even work,
      If you refuse to pilot in the open,
      And cover up the risks with PR murk,
      If you can be a most fascistic bully,
      Ignoring risks and the advice you get,
      Issuing demands that must be met fully,
      So civil servants act now, later to regret.

      If you can make one heap of all your earning,
      Keep it, then risk others’ safety on a toss,
      Then lose, and start again without learning,
      And yet deny the existence of your loss;
      If you claim you’ll save the public money,
      Then give companies that rip us off free reign,
      Yet not realise that it’s so sad it’s almost funny,
      That you still exalt greed and private gain.

      If you can ask the questions that are needed,
      Yet fail to hear the answers that ensue,
      If you can make sure people don’t feel headed,
      Whilst pretending it is listening that you do,
      If you can fail to provide working systems,
      Using technology outdated by the ark,
      And toe the lines that come from big corporations,
      Despite the fact that they’re so off the mark

      If you can bullshit crowds and have no virtue,
      Walk all over us and have no common touch,
      If everyone can see so clearly through you,
      If all staff you meet hate you so much,
      If you can waste each unforgiving minute,
      By talking much but still saying not one thing,
      Then you’ll ruin probation and everything that’s in it,
      And much blood will be on your hands Mr Grayling.

    2. The week ahead in commities, athos, g4s, serco, pcc's. Interesting week I think.