Possibly of more immediate relevance to us in probation is the news that Serco are in trouble with their Unpaid Work contract in London. As soon as the contract commenced they made 200 staff redundant, but Chris Grayling has continued to praise the fact that they are cheaper and cite the London contract as grounds for dismantling the whole probation service. But it turns out that Serco are in chaos and finding it impossible to keep accurate and timely records of UPW hours undertaken, of course a core task in being able to confidently supervise court orders.
Cheeky Serco are requesting assistance from staff at London Probation Trust to help them update the Delius record system, which has led to London Napo and Unison issuing the following statement:-
It has come to the attention of the unions that LPT are asking staff to carry out overtime on a voluntary basis in order to assist SERCO in clearing their backlog of CP DELIUS contact entries that should have been cleared by them by the 30/08 in accordance with their Business continuity plan.
The unions are advising members not to volunteer to do this work for SERCO at this time for the following reasons:
- SERCO have chosen to prioritise profit over service delivery and the unions do not consider that SERCO should now be afforded the facility to call upon LPT staff to assist them to fulfil their contract obligations, ie., different rates of pay for what is exactly the same work- during unsociable hours- which should in any case attract a premium payment at market rates, and this situation is not acceptable.
The situation regarding the contract variations that each Trust Board are being asked to consider rumbles on. The key matter involves each Trust agreeing to the MoJ request to reduce the contract notice period. Joe Kuipers, Chair of Avon and Somerset Probation Trust, has written further on the subject and in particular raises a number of key questions that each Trust Board might wish to consider:-
- Will the Board have a formal minuted Board meeting to consider the contract variations?
- Will this meeting be an open or closed session?
- Will the CEO (a Board member) and the Board Chair (or other Board members) sign a declaration that their considerations are unfettered by any potential conflicts of interest (that, for example, the CEO has an interest in applying for posts in either the NPS or CRC or a Board Chair aspires to become part of a future governance structure)?
- Will the Board have specialist contract legal advice available to assist the discussions?
- Will the Board have specialist HR advice available to understand if any of the contract variations have implications for the Board as the employer?