As the year draws to a close and many of us enjoy a well-earned break from work, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to members. 2013 has been an exceptionally difficult year: always stressful and uncertain, sometimes completely horrendous, but the collective energy and drive of Napo members means we’ve got through it.
We started the year complaining (quite rightly) that not many people know about Probation. They do now. The debates in both Houses of Parliament, the Justice Select Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the media coverage, the signing of public petitions, the motions against TR passed in town halls, the parliamentary lobby, the roasting of government ministers on the news, uncovering of the ugly side of privatisation in London CP, the walk outs, the demos, the strike, we have pressed home our argument and raised our profile.
Members have lobbied MPs with an energy and passion which has been constantly commented on in Parliament. Every Liberal Democrat we spoke to had been lobbied in their constituencies and now TR is being discussed at their parliamentary meetings. It’s working. Has it made a difference? The short, but very big answer is YES.
We have just emailed about the Framework Agreement. The government originally said “no continuous service for your members”. Knowing the strength of our membership, they capitulated when we demanded 7 years. Voluntary redundancy- taken off the table on a ministerial whim- is now put firmly back in the agreement. This doesn’t prohibit our vigorous campaign against TR or mean there aren’t further problems, but we couldn’t achieve that in negotiation without the confidence that members will stand up and take action.
Of course, a few things have helped along the way. G4S and Serco are no longer allowed to be main bidders for Probation work and this creates a massive dent in the government’s confidence that privatisation can just be rushed through. In 2014 we must turn our attention to the other potential bidders. Sodexo, Capita and many of the rest are just as bad.
The staff assignment process is an awful experience for everyone although remember when they said this would all be done and dusted last August? It’s still not over and members filing grievances are making themselves heard by all means available. The framework agreement will protect all our members in the future (if we lose) and provide immediate relief to those in the gung ho Trusts.
There isn’t anyone who believes the timetable for TR is realistic and, as a wise chap once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it!”
Given the time of year, we sent the Secretary of State a festive card with a peace dove on the front. When we’ve completely defeated privatisation, we’ll still respect his belief in rehabilitation and wanting to assist the under 12 months. As the experts in this work, we’d be more than happy to help.
Of course, Napo is not all about Probation in England and Wales. We are also conscious that we have not been able to communicate as much as wanted to about probation issues in Northern Ireland and the efforts of our FCS members who have just rejected a pay offer from Cafcass. We will address this in the New Year and would like to thank members in these areas for their forbearance.
With very best wishes
From Tom, Ian and all at Napo HQ
As mentioned above, and in Michael Spurr's uplifting Christmas message yesterday, there has been agreement on various important TR Framework matters and more details can be viewed over on the new ProbationVoice blogsite:-
NNC CIRCULAR No. 11/2013
SCCOG CIRCULAR No. 10/2013
TRANSFORMING REHABILITATION – ER/HR ISSUES
NATIONAL AGREEMENT ON STAFF TRANSFER AND PROTECTIONS
We write to confirm that, following a period of intensive negotiations, it has been agreed that the National Agreement on Staff transfer and protections will now be tabled for ratification at a full meeting of the NNC/SCCOG in January 2014.
The Agreement includes an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme which will remain in operation until 31 March 2015, with the last day of service agreed to be no later than 31 March 2016. Additionally, the commercial contracts will specify that, other than where more beneficial terms exist, where voluntary redundancy is offered, these enhanced terms should apply to any member of staff employed by a Probation Trust on 31 March 2014.
Key provisions of the Agreement are:
• A guarantee of employment for all probation staff, employed by a Probation Trust at 31 March 2014, in either the NPS or appropriate CRC.
• No compulsory redundancy up until 1 June 2015
• Protection of continuity of employment for any member of staff transferring between NPS/CRC up to the point of share sale.
• Additional protection of continuity of employment for staff employed on the 31 March 2014 who transfer between CRCs or from the NPS to a CRC for a period of seven years post share sale, this to be specified in the commercial contract.
• Continuation of Trade Union Recognition.
• Continuation of National Collective Bargaining - national collective bargaining arrangements will be continued with the recognised trade unions. These arrangements, which will replicate the existing NNC and SCCOG machinery appropriately reconstituted, will be recognised in formal Constitutions agreed by 31 March 2014.
• Maximising career development opportunities and interchange between the CRCs and NPS. An Interchange Agreement will be developed and jointly agreed by 31 March 2014.
The employers and the trade unions recognise that the past few months have been very unsettling for staff. The additional protections provided by key elements of the Agreement are designed to provide greater reassurance to staff about their future employment and terms and conditions.
This Agreement will be formally ratified at a full meeting of the NNC and SCCOG in January 2014. In the meantime, the disputes at local level are suspended by the trade unions and will be withdrawn once the Agreement is ratified.