Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Election Special

All eligible Napo members should by now have their ballot papers, together with details of the runners and riders for the top elected posts within the union. Given the unprecedented position we find ourselves in, I thought it would be worth trying to stimulate a bit of a discussion surrounding these Napo elections, and especially for the key posts of Chair and Vice Chairs. 

Regular readers will be extremely familiar with my views on the 'dysfunctionality' of Napo at the top, and judging by the extraordinary amount of comments generated by last Saturday's blog post 'Taking the Piss', these concerns are shared by others.

So, given all this, what do the candidates have to say about things internal at Napo HQ? Answer, precious little! If you look closely there are one or two carefully-crafted and coded references, but nothing that would frighten the horses after all each must already have fairly close working connections with Chivalry Road. But maybe we can flush the candidates out and tempt them to say a bit more? I know Dino has had a stab on this blog, but what about the others? Are you going to pretend things are OK at Napo HQ?

As a starter, lets look at this blog post from Sunday June 1st:-  
This dysfunctionality and disagreement regarding policy direction has been present for some time and long before Tom took the extraordinarily unwise decision to apply for an ACO post in the London CRC. This one key mistake sadly sealed his fate in the power game at Chivalry Road and he was unable to prevent the summary dismissal of Harry Fletcher from his temporary employment, contrary to the wishes of the NEC. The loss of Harry meant that his well-thought-out 50 point Action Plan was effectively consigned to the bin. 
It's quite likely that one of the officials who so singularly failed to back their Chair will assume the vacant position temporarily and possibly join other candidates in seeking a mandate from the membership (before) the next AGM. I think the membership will want a number of questions answering before casting their vote and in particular may well want to hear what plans any candidate may have in dealing with a whole raft of issues, such as:-
  • An independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the departure of the previous General Secretary
  • An internal constitutional review of governance arrangements
  • An effective member involvement and communication strategy
  • A financial, staffing and office accommodation Review 
  • An Action Plan for the continued resistance to TR, sale of the CRC's and member retention  
Lets be blunt about this. I'm reliably informed that there is to be no attempt at a Judicial Review of TR, not necessarily because there is no strong case, but because there is no money to fund it. This was probably always the case, but there's been a certain reluctance to share too much financial information with members. The publication of the Annual Financial Report gives some detail, and members might feel salient questions would be in order.

It's simply madness not to acknowledge that the next Chair and fellow senior colleagues are going to have to take some very serious decisions in relation to the internal structure, staffing levels and future of the union shortly after assuming office. Fighting TR is one thing, but there are serious internal issues to be dealt with as well. 

All the candidates appear to have wide union experience, so I have not republished their respective Napo battle honours, but rather just their statements on what they intend to do. I would advise members to read the full details on each candidate before casting their vote:- 

Robbie Bourget

I have always had a strong belief in strong social justice and am proud to belong to a union which I feel represents this belief. I believe that Napo can and should be at the forefront of all campaigns that centre on a fairer and more equal society because those we work with suffer when social injustice continues. I want to work to improve Napo's reach within Probation and Cafcass so that we become stronger and can carry the struggle forward to improve conditions not only for staff but also for those we serve, whether it be Courts or the clients. I am not afraid to put my views forward (which my MP will attest to) and I am willing to give freely of my own time to meet the challenges ahead and feel that I can represent all areas of the UK because I do not feel too bound to any one area and enjoy the diversity that is the UK. I reside close enough to London to make it easy to keep in touch with Napo Head Office and officials, but do not see London as the centre of the UK, merely a very large population base in a rather small area. London has special needs but other areas' needs cannot be forgotten as they are equally valid. I hope I can have the opportunity to represent all areas of the UK as Chair. Together, let us work to retain our professionalism and our rights as employees.

Yvonne Pattison & Chris Winters (Job Share)

We have chosen to stand as Co Chairs because we believe that collectively we bring a wider range of knowledge, skills and both trade union and professional experience. Whilst we share preferred learning styles (activist/pragmatist), our strengths lie in different areas, enabling us to use them to support each other for the benefit of Napo We have worked together as neighbouring Branch Chairs and more recently within the Officers group and we have evidenced shared views and a commitment to doing the 'right thing' for the wider membership.
In our view the priorities for Napo should be as follows:
  •  Fight the threat of privatisation linked to Transforming Rehabilitation, including the use of an effective media and Parliamentary strategy.
  •  Protect members' pay, codes and conditions.
  •  Ensure that Napo is a supportive and inclusive union for all members irrespective if they work in the Family Courts, Community Rehabilitation Companies, the National Probation Service or Northern Ireland and in whatever role.
  •  Retention of our members and active enrolment of new members, at all levels and in all organisations.
  •  Ensure the promotion of equality and diversity is fundamental to everything which Napo does
  •  The promotion of professional values, training and practice in all sectors of the Family and Criminal Justice systems.
  •  Support Branches/sections and ensure that Napo's structure are responsive to the external challenges but also meets the union and members' needs.
  •  Ensure a continued open dialogue between members and Napo centrally and be open to change within Napo structures if necessary

Dino Peros

Probation is split yet we are not divided! Our spirit and resolve remain strong and we will continue to fight the governments TR plans despite more to come!

The share sale, widely understood will not deliver a safe way to protect the public! We must persevere to ensure Probation remains a Public service and is never for profit.

Your vote to elect the most effective Chair decide who has appropriate experience skill and knowledge to support our common purpose our survival.

It is time for different strengths in this difficult role. Implementing change while incorporating views, from a range of mediums and proactive chairs and members. Ensuring our continued resistance against TRs appalling process.

Allied Unions involvement should be more obvious. PR Napo's priority continuing support to branches prolific posters, tweeters, getting probations defence recorded, recognising members who have been tireless.

Failing I.T, N-delius, resignations unfair selections flawed appeals Sickness increase and collapsing good will. Lack of confidence in the employers accompanied by excessive workloads! New dispute action cannot be ruled out.

I want to ensure transparent reporting for members on all issues. During this crisis! We will find reserves, retain our membership and encourage others to loin. Its not too late.

Having served as Vice Chair, I have the experience to manage immediately taking all members interests forward. We should build the case for judicial review legally challenge the distortions which have been shamelessly spread about Probation.
Vote for me. Thanks!

There are three candidates for two vacant positions of Vice Chair:-

Dave Adams

I am committed to fighting to save Probation and preventing the proposed share sale which will place Probation in the hands of the "privateers". I have led a high profile media campaign in Warwickshire and have had many articles published in local and national media and have been interviewed on local radio on numerous occasions, I have shown on numerous occasions that I am prepared to stand up and be counted and go on the record to publicise the scandal that is TR.

As vice chair I will use the resources that this position provides to continue to promote Napo's opposition to TR and reach a wider audience. I will also work on increasing the membership of Napo in CRCs and NPS in order to improve Napo's influence and representation.

Now more than ever Napo need vice chairs who will show leadership and who will fight to "save probation".

Chas Berry

Napo's strength in the battle to defeat TR has been our willingness to lead an independent strategy, including the use of industrial action, to force concessions that protect significant parts of our terms and conditions. It is this pressure and the threat of further action that is the key to seeing off the privatisation of the CRCs. We can have no confidence in Labour coming to the rescue and must maintain our independent position 
of opposition to privatisation up to and, if necessary, beyond share sale.

Independence does not mean isolation however, and we must try to build on common ground with UNISON, GMB and other unions. Alongside our colleagues in Family Courts we face the common problems of low pay, high workloads and the threat of privatisation. Unity in action around pay can unite us all and seize back the initiative from the privateers. General strike action on this issue would raise the confidence of all workers and send a powerful message that we will not accept the degradation and ruination of our livelihoods.

I am a member of the Socialist Party and have stood twice in local elections under the banner of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). With all the major parties following the same big business agenda it is vital we use our political fund to back candidates that won't do their dirty work for them This means helping those like TUSC who want to see a new party that represents the millions not the millionaires.


Katie Lomas

The last two years have been challenging both locally and nationally. We face further challenges in the months and years to come. Having fought to preserve our proud and precious service, we must continue to fight for our future. It would be all too easy for us to retreat to a safe place at this point. to hide ourselves from any perceived threat or exposure. Despite these feelings we must continue to fight, we must ensure that the public, the Government, the opposition and most of all the media, know what is really happening and the risk being taken with public safety.

This is not the only threat to Napo. we also need to grow as a union, to develop and leave behind the difficulties of the last few years and to become stronger. We are a small Union with a big voice. We need that voice to be heard. I will work to build the Union and make it strong, as I have done in my branch, nurturing activism, ensuring inclusion and that the branch does the work that the members require of it.

I would apply the same approach nationally. The democratic workings of Napo must be accessible to members and  those that carry out the work of the union must represent the membership and be accountable. Being a leader is not lust about being strong, it's about supporting those around you to be strong too, so that together we can fight the threats we will inevitably face.


A few comments have come in already:-

Just got home to open Napo election material. Feel encouraged by the positive & assertive Vice Chair candidates standing: maybe its because I've had a day from hell at work but have no sense of inspiration from those for Chair however. The choice of our NEC reps is going to be even more important.

******
I would urge people to vote for Dino Peros for chair. He is a brilliant rep who knows his stuff inside out. He has been my rep on one occasion and obtained the desired result. He is very feisty and I feel we need some one like that to deal with the likes of Grayling and the MoJ. He predicted a lot of what has been happening a long time ago. He has a long history of trade unionism and I think he will give Grayling a good run for his money.

*******
I'm impressed by the election statements from Yvonne Pattison & Chris Winters (job share) but know little other than what is written in said statements. Are any readers of this blog able to recommend them? Also, Yvonne / Chris do you read this blog? Be great to hear from you if you do!

*******
One would imagine that ALL candidates would be familiar with the sentiments of the staff as reported on this blog....perhaps THIS will be the forum of choice for their canvassing! 
At least one candidate has started to engage on here...perhaps Jim you might be able to encourage further involvement from the candidates....


*******
Yvonne and Chris for Chair - Good solid and dependable grafters who won't set the world on fire but will certainly get the job done. Chas and Kate for Vice Chairs (though Dave seems ok too) Richard and Ikki for NEC Black Reps. Let's get it right this time for the members people. Show boating, self promotion, cushy directorships, laziness, personal agendas, scandals etc NO THANKS!!!!!!! 

Just listen to the members concentrate on doing what your elected to do and nothing else is required (or else we'll send Pat Waterman in to sort the lot of you out - so behave yourselves!!!!!). Thanks.


*******
Napo needs a strong leadership. If only Pat Waterman were to run for the National Chair. Tough job ahead for the elected National Chair. Yvonne and Chris may be seen as a pair of safe hands but are they capable to lead the union through this challenging times? We need someone who is capable and able to steer our much loved service away from the mess Grayling has put us in. Having said that, respect to those candidates who have put their names forward. We just need to get it right this time round as we appear to be losing members in numbers.

70 comments:

  1. Yvonne & Chris for Chair. They r the only option if you want fair, honest and effective leadership!

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    1. I can understand someone believing one candidate might be more effective than another but to say Yvonne & Chris are the "only" option if you want "fair" & "honest" leadership sounds extreme!!

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    2. I don't like the idea of a joint Chair at all. I don't think it works.

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    3. It certainly didnt work last time.

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    4. no, no no they are nice people but we need leadership not people who will maintain the status quo

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  2. Who will stick up for us workers? Who will back a review of Trusts sifting processes - in court if needs be? Who will put forward a test case or group action for POs in CRCs who no longer have their jobs? Who will sort out whatever's going on at Napo HQ? Who will organise effective strike action ie take out Court officers for a week and pay them for their trouble? Hell, take out SPOs and pay them for their trouble - there are enough Napo SPOs to cause a stir! That's the leadership I'd like to see. Who will do this?

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  3. So according to Jim you would be a better candidate for chair if you posted on this blog!,,,, I am beginning to think that you have a hidden agenda Jim. Some of your posts are very anti Napo and not helpful at all. Napo is our union and as I previously highlighted...yes Harry was a good PR man but he chose to leave us when we really good have done with his contacts in HOC and assisting Tania to learn the ropes. Not cool and not helpful to keep unity

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    1. Not necessarily but imo a better candidate for chair would know about and support this blog.

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    2. Anonymous24 - I think Jim's blog has represented the frustrations felt by a large number of NAPO members regarding the seemingly poor response from NAPO HQ.

      I agree that HF left at a time when we needed his expertise the most, but the decision by HQ to stop paying his temp contract, for me personally, is baffling and I think NAPO members deserved more of an explanation as to why. I am also concerned that no extra support was offered to Tania in her new role - again leaving me with questions about the decision making at the top.

      All in all, in my opinion NAPO leadership have shown a lack of action, accountability and a disregard towards the feelings of Probation service members.

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    3. As someone who has been paying NAPO subs for 24 years I reckon this blog is a more effective anti TR campaigning tool than anything thought up at Chivalry Road. They frankly don't have a clue!

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    4. Funny how there are people who believe telling the truth about NAPO is 'anti NAPO'. What, following this logic, would being 'Pro-NAPO' entail? The answer of course would be blind unquestioning loyalty to a set of self serving professional bureaucrats wilfully divorced from the reality of our situation who haven't missed an opportunity to sell us short. The NAPO leadership is plainly rotten to the core, and the machinations of the MoJ, who make no secret of their plans for our service and our livelyhoods are as nothing compared to the duplicity and dishonesty of these charlatans purporting to represent us while actively colluding in our demise

      Simon Garden

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    5. You choose to believe what jim tells you I don't it a matter of opinion. I believe that this blog started out as being informative but is now a forum for running down napo officials. If you think you can do a better job ..or jim for that matter why don't you put yourself forward...that's assuming you can ? It's not funny it's sad to see that people are fighting for their jobs and others just want to create as much havoc as possible.

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    6. Who's laughing? What's truly sad to see is that people are indeed fighting for their jobs but are getting precisely no help at all from the NAPO officials that you blithely hold in such dubious esteem. 'Running down NAPO officials'? Come off it. These repeated efforts to belittle legitimate and desperately urgent criticism of union inaction through disingenuous attempts to reframe every such comment as a 'personal attack' are an insult to the intelligence of each and every rank and file member. We as workers are facing attack on all fronts and when the people claiming to represent our best interests are doing nothing of the sort it will not stand! As for your 'if you think you can do better' codswallop... you know...fuck off

      Simon Garden

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    7. Im a rank and file union member and probation officer and I really would like to see how someone like you would stand up to the barrage of abuse .....potty mouth

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    8. NAPOs leaders are failing to adequately represent NAPO members. It will soon be too late, and it will be their fault.

      Simon Garden

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    9. Not sure if Anon 24 really gets it? There is a real sense that Napo HQ have been essentially absent, ineffective and this has created a void; at a time when members really needed to be informed, advised, encouraged and supported. However, whenever someone makes a suggestion, or asks a legitimate question, certainly on this blog...all we get back is the defensive, vague mutterings of people who seem to have extremely fragile egos, career prospects; people not hard enough to make a stand, to take on the SoS and his cronies; sure, they cannot even take criticism from the membership, before they shuffle off into some quiet recess, or should that read AWOL. Also, your apparent reluctance to acknowledge that Simon Garden has a valid point and makes it well, only makes me wonder if you would like to erase this blog, as NAPO did his comments from the forum...shame on them!

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  4. It would also have helped for me to know whether the candidates are in NPS or CRC?

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    1. I was thinking that myself but then I wondered why did it matter?

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  5. Jim, you say there will be no JR of TR "cos there's no money to fund it". Is that the view of the whole leadership, officers and officials? Or are there people still going for it? No money, ffs! There are little local groups - tenants associations and the like- who can and do use JR successfully. But we can't!? Set up a fighting fund, look to the membership, run a raffle if need be. This is ALL of our futures , a once-in-a-lifetime chance. My Vote eill be going to candidates who will pursue this to the wire.

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    1. As I understand it theres no reson why candidates couldn't be emailed and asked their po s itions on issues like JR and they can be invited to Branch meetings too which might be an idea if anyone has a Branch meeting over summer?

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  6. In terms of Tania Bassett, she's a lovely person, absolutely no doubt about that. My only qualm about her appointment was that she has no media relations background, no experience in that area whatsoever. She would have been better suited to a different role in NAPO, but giving her a crucial role where the survival of Probation officers is at stake was flawed in every sense of the word. My own view is that Tania was set up to fail, and in turn fail the membership from the outset. The person who made the appointment needs to be held to account and explain their rationale in detail! I don't know how decisions are taken at NAPO, my gut feeling is at the flip of a coin. As soon as poor Tania was appointed to a role she was clearly unqualified to undertake, my feelings went out for her and the membership.

    Can we please take a vote as to how you view Tania's appointment to the media role.

    1 = Agree that she was suited
    2 = Disagree that she was suited to the role due to lack of experience in media relations.

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    1. A bit unfair to have a straw poll as I don't think I know enough about Tanya's background, media training etc.

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    2. I agree. That's a pretty silly suggestion. I don't attend napo meetings but if I wanted to raise such an issue I would attend a branch meeting to discuss how the branch could take it forward. Also this is not a napo forum and I don't think it's fair to keep posting about napo employees on here. It's not accountable and does seem a bit bullying.

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    3. I think individual branches have a responsibility to do more to engage with their own local media and some areas have been very successful in this regard.

      Continual national media coverage is a very big ask for any campaign and our small voice inevitably competes with big hitters and you constantly need something new to make the frontpage.

      Napo HQ probably underestimated the need for more investment in PR and media relations and probably should have moved faster to reorganise as a campaigning union including training spokespeople in how to handle the media etc. no matter what else was going on.

      But I think it is grossly unfair to engage in constant criticism of Napos efforts and smacks a little of kicking someone when they are down. There is a media team at Napo HQ and they have not done too badly in comparison to other unions and very well if you consider the size of Napo who are not geared up for the kind of massive campaigning required to make a difference. They simply do not have the resources of bigger unions.

      The media team are doing the job they were employed to do as well as they are able with all the resources provided and it was simply not their fault that their employers (who are elected by the membership) may have underestimated the size of the task or it simply became a lot bigger. It is all too easy to sit on the sidelines criticising without thinking what you can do to make a difference and to give the campaigns a boost. What is of concern to me is that Napo might be accused of not making best use of their available talent and possibly even sidelining people or entire branches that should be playing a key role in their media strategy.

      They need to listen to their members but in the case of the media they also need to listen to and take advice from known experts with a proven track record of organising campaign design and coordination (Harry isnt the only one who knows a thing or two and noone knows everything). Perhaps they could start by speaking to the NUJ for some free advice and also do a proper skills audit of the membership.

      Other campaigning criminal justice organisations have media people and they are highly valued and listened to so is Tania and her team getting the support they need?

      Criticism has its place but it isn't exactly motivating and I wonder how inspired Napos media team feels when they have some success and gets little praise. Lets pull together and use what we have rather than sniping from the couch.

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    4. Since Harry Fletcher left I've not heard or seen one interview in the media with a NAPO spokesperson!

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  7. Whilst I have been quite critical about the lack of media interaction from NAPO throughout TR, whether or not TB has the skills to do the job is secondary to the lack of Leadership that allowed this situation to happen. There is clearly dysfunctional leadership at the top with implicit bullying tactics. NAPO as an employer has is a duty of care to TB and discussing her effectiveness on the forum is a form of revictimisation, we need to remove her from the equation and hold IL to account and a vote of 'no confidence' is what is required. Bob Crow will be remembered for supporting his workers, IL will go down as the Gen Secretary that failed his workers. Let's focus on the cause of the problem rather than the symptoms.

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  8. I always since when anyone in Probation talks about bullying. We work with murderers, rapists, child abusers, dv perpetrators etc. How hard can it be to challenge a bully?

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    1. Easiest job in the world to challenge CLIENT perpetrators. To challenge an organistion ,middle or senior managers is a different story. We all have mortages and other bills to pay as well as ( in some cases) dependants to care for. ITS SCARY TO CHALLENGE SO THE wORKPLACE PUTS UP AND SHUTS UP FOR FEAR OF THE Consequences..........

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  9. Wince not since (it got spellchecked)

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  10. It's unsurprising to see that Napo's general secretary resents anonymous posting. You can post anonymously on Napo's own forum, and the majority do, though I suppose the difference is that if you go off message on the Napo pages the moderatrix will delete you. The GS complains about personal criticisms directed at individuals, including himself, but he is mistaken to conflate the public with the personal. The criticisms have been about public conduct, strategy and leadership.

    For instance: I now read that the cost of a judicial review may be prohibitive. But the GS should have done his homework on the finances before he surprised everyone at last year's AGM with his announcement that the papers for JR would be in the post on Monday! Cue rapturous applause. It all went very quiet after that until there was some grassroots clamour. There was nothing about not being able to afford it when he recently wrote on his blog regarding JR: '...one that we intend to exhaust if it becomes clear that the chances of succeeding with a legal intervention are favourable'.

    Until the signing of the framework agreement Napo and Unison were joined at the hip. The Unison membership voted to accept the agreement and Napo did it through NEC delegates. Napo has stated from the outset that signing up did not mean an acceptance of TR, that they were against splitting the workforce. But the core of the framework agreement was the split – continuity of service, VR, were important but peripheral and would have had to be included in any future negotiations. The time to make a stand was before not after the split.

    Now it's to be a stop the share sale protest. It may well be postponed but I do not see it stopping as all political parties are in favour of private and third sector involvement. Nor will the split be reversed. There would be no political will to do it and even if there was the cost would be cited as an insurmountable obstacle. And whatever we think of outsourcing, it is still the zeitgeist, though it's weakening as the evidence negates it with each passing year. The probation service will probably be reinvented in decades, but not months or even years.

    Ian Lawrence was elected on a turnout of 19.6%. I hope the turnout increases in the forthcoming elections of Napo national officers. Their manifestos read like boilerplates, in that they all tick the boxes about fighting TR, being inclusive, supporting members, diversity. Whoever is elected you don't get the sense of anything radical occurring. I certainly do not think that because a candidate contributes to this blog should be seen as any form of endorsement. There are Dinophiles, Dinosceptics and I daresay some Dinophobics – but that is probably equally true of all the candidates.

    No candidate is calling for an independent review into Napo's governance, past and present. No ripples on the probation institute so beloved of the MoJ and now being promoted via free membership in some areas. We are told they will fight but not how they will fight or whether their fight will be different from the current Chivalry Road strategy.

    The key issue is engagement of the membership and that has been poor of late. Apathy on this scale makes it hard for a leadership to show any industrial muscle – the only thing that really wakes up the powers that be; and a weak membership also makes it too easy for a leadership to lose sight of its accountabilities. Worker apathy is another aspect of the zeitgeist. The irony about apathy is that it makes a real difference: it makes it easier for the employer to screw the worker. 'Wherefore weave with toil and care/ The rich robes your tyrants wear?

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    1. Thank you Netnipper an encouraging post. I would want to support much of what you have said and it reads as though this could be the future. I hope not ! In terms of running for Chair I want to believe in the old adage" it aint over till its over " No one in the membership would want to read a 250 word statement this is it we are finished gang well all but the shouting. There is so much wrong the TR roll out, which makes it unachievable in the short to mid term. Right now in my CRC middle management non qualified PSO role I am well supported by a decent ACO who well knows why I will not encroach on professional work. Sadly there are too many that are willing to do just that, it is destructive as we all get irritated. It is the consequence of TR!

      With what we know and with the right assertions central NAPO direction is not beyond the realms of possibility to force the employer to make the I.T. N -delius function properly as we are required to adopt. It should be part of our continued action. The few remaining (and what feels to be sacrificed professional PO staff within in the CRC) shut out of important information is incredible yet somehow the sift exercise based on arbitrary data with a distinction of work date 11 11 may not stand a reasonable challenge if tested in the legal arena. We have not seen a reported list of members caught in this position with test cases that should be collated for potential combined challenge. The appeals mechanism was a farce as the grounds were limited and not wholly reflective of the unique situations our members faced. The same can be said for minority groups who would have been unfairly disadvantaged.



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    2. We were all aware via this blog and the GS of the agreement hurried into just before Christmas. The trick of the carrot and the stick over the Enhanced VR offer the only attraction. I say this because the 7 year protections are already being muted as a temporary arrangement. They wont help anyone if the redundancy notice comes from any new employer.

      It is easy for me to say looking at this in hindsight. I did not comment or post at the time the Chair was elected . I was surprised and disappointed the agreement was reached prematurely. It was claimed in order to retain the EVR offer after a surprise threat to withdraw it. This tabling at the December negotiating meeting and had not been properly circulated to the Unions as a disclosed document. They were dealing with critical issues cold. I recall 10 days pre circulation being the usual. It should have been rejected but we don’t know what confidence the team had at the time. The EVR limited in scope is less likely to be properly available to anyone other than identified people and its value is far too expensive for the rest . I think we would have seen a more angry dispute over the real impact of the pensions and the lesser value agreement already in the LGPS.

      I was not there and do not have any finer details. However, I have done a fair bit of lobbying on pensions protection. Our starting point should have remained fixed in the terms of the LGPS at 104 weeks pay. Thanks to Mike McC he had that one well covered yet sadly it was not within his gift to see it through and we mourned that issue in our regional link meeting. We have to unite over common causes that have a bearing on us all.

      There is still a bigger discussion to be had over the huge risks faced by members who are under 55 whereby pensions on severance will not be paid and not attainable until they reach 60. possible penalties on that also to be calculated in.

      I cannot see any sold off CRCs in private ownership supporting the strain costs if staff attempt to seek early retirements under reasonable grounds. Had all the on-going risks been calculated for NAPO members, perhaps some account of Napos demography we may well have seen a much stronger reaction and support for the strikes .

      Still it is not over yet, we have many members with hopefully careers in front of them, while many more are disillusioned with what the future of our work looks like .

      What is becoming clearer is there are developing issues over the legitimacy of what can be termed a competition. With possibly 21 areas and only 21 bidders many without any competition . Didn’t Joanna Hughes point this out already ? This sham was sold to Parliament on the basis of competitive process and this will drive up the commercial investment. How will this be demonstrated ?

      Where is the claimed public interests in savings? Getting rid of a performing public service ? This governments process sees one bidder in the ring which, effectively becomes a giveaway. There will be no need to assess the bid offer because they wont have another to measure it against ! How will bids be decided in the sub sectional analysis, who are the teams and how will we be able to ensure assessment is transparent and accountable.

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    3. Come on Netnipper there are some well written accounts on here and we can apply that talent pool in continuing the challenges. The JR process which was promised and you accurately recall, should be built upon. All the issues we can muster to promote all legal obstacles strategically placed, right in the way of the well liked and popular Mr Grayling and the Tory bandwagon . Whoever is Chair we have to mount that challenge or we have given up. I appreciate there may well be compromises but as yet we have to see where legal argument takes us.

      Any Chair will need to get a grip on the budget the forecast and the on-going costs. Collectively with the officers prioritise a list that will need to be reflective of the members mood and overall situation. It will need the support of the reformed and reduced NEC who themselves will be nationally elected. Not to mention this years motions. I would want to include all voices no matter where they are generated from and meet those interested in support of NAPO . I do not think anything I have said is not in the interests of members and openly commenting in a way to support our combined struggle could well attract argument.

      I respect your post and the comments on phials sceptics and phobic, this is exactly what any candidate will have. Yet I am grateful for the first group. I hope to impact positively on the second and at this stage in the process any Phobics I hope they have real faith and confidence in their choice of candidate. I am sure we all want to ensure NAPO includes everything it can in the collective battle and to unite us all with single purpose

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  11. Netnipper, you are absolutely spot on. That is one of the most accurate and concise posts I have read on this blog and in my opinion, absolutely sums up the situation perfectly.

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    1. As above absolutely spot on Netnipper! I vote for a coup by Netnipper and Pat Waterman to shake Chivalry Road out of it's dysfunctional complacency !

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    2. Pat is undoubtedly committed ....I just wish she would sometimes listen to the views of others and permit other people to speak, to perhaps understand that other branches and their officers work hard too.. and have a right to be heard..not everything is about LONDON all of the time, it is sad to be saying this but we are really all in this together...

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    3. I would never dare to speak for Pat Waterman but I feel sure Pat appreciates that other Branches and their officers work hard and she does listen to the views of others. She is an old school probation officer at heart.

      I think she is very much committed to fighting TR

      Most National Meetings I've attended are simply talking shops where there is a fair amount of hot air whereas Pat is a person of action (they generally speak louder than words) and might not have much time for people who just want to waste time having a group hug and a moan where she wants to get on with business and get stuck in to the fight.

      I disagree 100% regarding London.

      The entire membership can go to the fine cities of Newcastle Birmingham or even Chumley on Sea if such a place exists (if not it should) and make a loud noise have a nice time with like minded people and be almost completely ignored but get 500+ to a jam packed Lobby in Parliament or try to ram a giant effigy of Chris Grayling through the entrance at the MoJ and people sit up and take notice.

      Fact 1 London is the UKs media hub where the news teams are and where the journalists and most of the TV channels are based. Those outside of London might not like it when London get some coverage but that's the reality (national vs local news). All media people are lazy wotsits and can just about make it to Westminster

      Fact 2 London is the biggest baddest city Proper riots proper serious crime (Manchester, Liverpool and other major cities do ok too) but we have a mad Mayor who has his own police force and likes to play with toys like water canons (eg a previous Tory called Churchill suggested bombing and machine gunning strikers in 1919). Lots happens and when it does its epic and makes national news.

      Fact 3 We have the the most diverse probation workforce and for that matter officers come from all over the UK to work here and like the buzz of being in the heart of things. We leave London for a slower pace of life. If you want TR problems we can almost rival Manchester but again the media wont go there when we are on the doorstep

      Fact 4 London is the capital and the seat of government. It is where the MoJ live and NOMS and the NPS etc etc Yes, all most of the power is here and the money (its unfair and awful but thats the fact) A lot of the bidders have HQs or large offices here.


      If we win in London then even if they have rolled over and welcomed TR with open arms elsewhere things will be u-turned and suddenly the rest will win. Lose in London and you might as well pack up and welcome TR without a hope because the MoJ know this only too well that if they win here they will be confident they have cracked it.

      I expect that is why Pat and no doubt others who want effective action may feel a tad frustrated if someone is proposing a sponsored walk in Somerset (achingly beautiful and wonderful a place that it is) to oppose TR. Sorry but for my money it really is all about London however much we regret the way things are set up in the country and come the revolution we'll make sure wealth and power is distributed more equitably.

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    4. Anon at 21.52 makes much sense - I grew up in suburban London, worked in Merseyside, Essex & inner & outer London.

      I gather London does about 25% of all probation work in England and Wales - but equally many in Governement and National organisations are ignorant of the reality of trying to deliver equivalent services in the most rural parts of England & Wales which policy demands.

      I was making a fuss about it in 1980s when I worked in a semi rural part of Essex where clients - even then could not get to report by public transport and the court was 15 or more miles away - now they have closed all the rural offices and the situation is FAR worse in non-metropolitan areas - it must be a nightmare waste to have two probation organisations everywhere!

      So there are some things about London that should not dominate all, although even in greater London there are semi isolated places but nothing like north Wales or
      Northumbria or the far West Country

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    5. You are all clearly not listening, if that's the case about London there are no other voices to be heard as you are bigger and by smug implication, better than "the rest". The comments about Somerset are offensive...and I am not from there. I now give up there is no point if London has the right, as you both imply to drown everything and everyone else out. Perhaps that is why we are in this mess.....those who shout loudest etc.....

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    6. Well we are listening and Jim Brown is not based in London as has sometimes been implied. There is always a danger of things becoming London-centric, so the rest of us will just have to make sure there's some balance.

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    7. I think people are listening but the fact is that no matter how personally painful it is you cannot ignore London and argue that power in the UK is located elsewhere as this would be self delusional and evidently wrong. But I would be very interested in hearing about a campaign strategy that was not based primarily in London in the thick of it. I expect Harry would too. Individual Chairs will no doubt continue to fight their corners and continue to look to London based National Napo for direction. I'm from Somerset born and bred and I feel well qualified to comment on its shortcomings thanks for the defence of my beloved home county. Much appreciated.

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    8. I agree with anon at 06.13, the remarks about 'Somerset' by anon 23 July 2014 21:52 were rather crass, and perhaps I should have said so in my post at 23 July 2014 22:41.

      I try to ignore negative remarks, with the aim of building unity rather than reinforcing differences.

      I did try to deal realistically with the issue of working in probation in areas like Somerset - which I know a little having holidayed in Exmoor above Minehead and also near Otterton and Exmouth a number of times since 1970.

      Having in the eighties, worked in a part of Essex that was surprisingly rural - straight after working in Liverpool City and at that time being friends with a colleague in North Wales, I was aware just how varied it is working in different parts of the country. Seeing as most of us live & work in urban or metropolitan situations for most of our careers it is very frustrating when probation and union practice takes little regard for those of us who do not function in such situations. I think it is a greatly avoided aspect of all government policy making throughout my lifetime.

      I live in a semi rural part of the London commuter belt and have tried to depend on public transport, but it is simply impossible, unless one is to live a very isolated lifestyle or rely on private hire transport, which is beyond the means of many if not most people who are probation clients) and (as my time as an Edridge Benefit Fund Rep in the 1980s taught me), a good number of probation employees and retirees.

      Nonetheless, I repeat, it remains true that Probation in Greater London, does undertake about 25% of all probation work in England and Wales and successful resistance to TR there is vital if it is to be rejected throughout England and Wales. It is also easier to engage with national organisations and Media in London, though some in other areas have done particularly well, though perhaps not been noticed.

      I particularly have in mind, the North East and Wales and Gloucestershire where there have been several features in Broadcast Media - I think we can use this Blog's comments facility to share news of other media successes and also the Napo Forum, because although some get mentioned via Napo, they do not (somehow) grab my attention as much as I would like - the problem is there is not a single national publication that is trying to tell the whole story of TR, although Ian Dunt and his

      http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2014/07/03/chaos-in-probation-staff-picked-out-of-a-hat-for-privatised

      website seems to do better than most (even if I cannot search for all mentions of probation in that website)

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  12. "You can post anonymously on Napo's own forum" -

    Anonymous as far as the public is concerned, though Napo holds an email address for all posters, so they are not totally anonymous to Napo.

    I accept that is not the whole issue - Napo got in a muddle with its Forum long ago, and never properly sorted it out after it was 'attacked' by the fathers for justice campaigners who hold CAFCASS and former Probation Service Family Court Workers (which I was on a p/t basis up to about 1992) at least partially responsible for the fact that, as they see it, fathers do not get fairly treated in the Family Courts.


    Napo was quite slow to get a Forum and then not very efficient about it, entrusting it to a bloke who won awards but did not provide a forum (as far as I was concerned) any better than Yahoo or Google offered freely to the public.

    Napo has never seriously promoted its forum in its print newsletters and it is only very recently that our (Napo members) had an improved web presence. I questioned and challenged the last three general secretaries about it, but never did anything through the Union's formal procedures and so I share responsibility, along with every other member.

    What the comments section of this Google Blogger website has proved, is that when access is easy (for most) probation folk have much they are prepared to say about probation related issues, as long as they can do it anonymously.

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  13. Problem with the NAPO forum is that it's completely moribund apart from your sterling efforts Andrew.

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    1. I've tried to use it but find the format difficult to navigate.

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  14. Dino has a reputation for being divisive, but I have always known him to be decisive, committed and actually able to make things happen. Above all, he has been outspoken from the start over TR and will stand up against Napo HQ: certainly, it will no longer be business as usual. I have always found Dino to be approachable, and to have good ideas. Even if his mind is not always conventional and I sometimes struggle with his formidable knowledge about unions and get lost, he has never struck me as someone who puts himself first or holds grudges. Rather, he commits himself to representing others and working for the union, and he is completely committed to defeating TR. While his grammar may leave a bit to be desired, he is passionate and he has shown himself capable of standing up against those at the top of the union, and so I favour him ovr the other candidates. We need to fight and fight from now until the election. This is also why I would vote for Chas as he is a fighter. (I can’t see a shared post working as they will only have 50% facility time anyway).

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    1. Sounds good to me Joanna. Thanks for the input. It helps when people like you give us the benefits of your personal knowledge.

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  15. That is not my impression of Dino at all. Joanna did you see him chair at napo AGM in the past. If you did you will know what I'm talking about.

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    1. You are most likely right my apologies it can be a bit rabbit in headlights up there. When any chairs are managing a range of competing and often conflicting elements, the added pressure to try and maintain order will always leave someone or many on occasion annoyed. That is only one aspect and the potential to get criticised is always present and magnified. There is an abundance of other matters in different forums that need some carful management and also less addiction to what has bound us from moving things forwards in some ways. These are the scenes that many members will not see and that is where whoever becomes Chair will have to work hard and then account to members judgments.

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    2. Part of the problem is that there are many tasks covered traditionally by the Chair with the assumption one person can be excellent at all-that is a tall order. Especially now within our battle with TR, having a more collective approach within the Officers Group is more likely to be successful and creative in our TR campaign in my opinion. This foesnt mean opting out of responsibility its about holding everyone to tadk snd keeping staff focussed snd motivated whrre necessary. Other aspects such as chairing AGM and NEC are not easy but are sharable and if planned well and acting "Chair" of a meeting is supported with procedural advice etc, it helps.The best National Chairs are in my opinion those who are able to recognise others strengths ,respect their ability to contribute and give them opportunity to use their expertise and skills to work collaboratively for common good.This is not the same as letting Vice Chsir role be one of pursuing an individuals pet interests. Its about agreeing as a team what are key tasks and who will do what.I think all the Vice chair candidstes will be excellent team playrrs in this regard.Personally am still musing on best Chair candidate to act as co-ordinator,spokesperson and lead negotiator on our behalf with HQ staff....P

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    3. Sorry meant "holding everyone to task". Apologies for other typos! P

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  16. I've heard that people are standing just to keep Dino out, so he gets my vote!

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    1. That's a wasted vote. Go for someone you think will make a difference

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  17. I agree with Joanna. I have had Dino represent me and believe you me he knows his stuff inside out. I know he can be outspoken but it is my assessment that he is just what we need to sort the top table out. If he had got chair last year, he would have wiped the floor with grayling and TR would not be where it is now. We need someone with his years of experience, his depth of knowledge and his ability to say it like it is. He is passionate about figting TR etc as am I. People who know me, know how passionate and how much of an activist I am and I SUPPORT DINO. I will be voting for Chas for vice chair.
    JillN

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    1. Does he talk like he writes......because if he does....come back Tom all is forgiven

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    2. Seriously think about what you've written. Offensive in every respect.

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    3. I did and I still feel the same way.

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    4. Maybe you deserve a leader like the last one. I'd rather have Dino in charge anyday.

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    5. I don't know him but obviously communication skills are crucial to the role. His comments above are hard to understand because of sentence consruction. We need the best communicator!

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  18. How about a protest vote? A mass spoiling of ballot papers - perhaps then someone would sit up and take note......I know I am likely to be shot down for this suggestion & could probably myself list most of the comments before they are made..........but does anyone agree?
    Oh, & when it comes to saving money let's stop having AGMs - a meeting every two years would be adequate in my view & would allow committees to have a proper stab at doing the necessary work. The amount (of money, time & effort) spent every year on AGM (I once saw the figures but can't remember them except it was a lot) is disproportionate for a union of our size in my view.......Bobbyjoe

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    1. Or Bobby Jo vote and whoever that is for lets work together so they get a decent mandate and get behind the Union and try and galvanise us into a stronger cohesive team !

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  19. Sorry to go off thread but I wanted to update the OASys situation as NOMS are currently look into a giant hole scratching their heads and wondering what the hell to do! Staff will be aware that the update last week-end caused major problems which they hoped to fix but hadn't been able to at 4:30 today. They have canvassed OASys leads to ask how long we can go without OASys as they advised staff not to create any more assessments as there was a risk they would be lost. Any that were critical it was suggested should be printed off. Looks like they don't expect HP to get a fix in the near future so the only other options is to re-set the system to last week-end. Only trouble is this would mean that any assessments completed this week will be deleted! As if things aren't bad enough for staff this could be the final straw that breaks the last vestiges of morale left. The IT system seems to be in meltdown with the email problems yesterday! Today in our office there were a variety of nDelius problems, log on difficulties, access to myservices, laptop security issues to name just a few! Would be interesting to hear from others if they have noticed IT getting worse this week?

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  20. I wasnt aware of something being done with oasys last weekend. In Devon and Cornwall it's been ok. We did have an email yesterday saying that due to the shut down at the weekend when nps get put on a different system or whatever it is.. That it could be that any oasys done since Sunday we may lose . So told us to print it and not do any oasys unless critical this week. We did have another email re some virus on email system but can't say I've noticed anything problamatic

    JillN

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  21. Perhaps there would be money for a judicial review if NAPO hadn't had to pay off former members of staff for their scandalous behaviour. The loss of Harry Fletcher at this most critical of times is the death knell of any meaningful opposition to TR. Chris Grayling must be rubbing his hands in glee.

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  22. Sorry to be off topic, but oasys not working again today. Pressure is on from every angle but we do not have the IT to do our jobs, its chaos upon chaos. Who ever gets voted in hurry up and sort this mess out. From meltdown Manchester.

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  23. Anonymous 20:48 - I have always wondered why we hold AGM at expensive venues. Why couldn't we hold these at local community centres and additional funds given to help support local community projects. Such measures will assist and support local regeneration and increase our public profile.

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    1. AGM's are held in the way that they are because that is what the membership appointed representatives agree.

      The way to change things is to propose a motion about it either via a Branch Motion to the NEC (National Executive Committee) or from you to a General Meeting itself (you will need one person to second your motion - it is not necessary for you or your seconder to speak to your motion at the General Meeting - but if you do you may convince others to support it, who would not do otherwise - if people speak against your motion, at a GM you will be give a right of reply)

      It is also possible to ask questions about the annual report at the AGM and a question like this seems very appropriate - to get advise about asking a question (and at what section of the AGM) if one cannot get help from within one's own branch direct it to the Steering Committee who will be present at every General Meeting and stewards should be able to help you find them.

      In between General Meetings such an inquiry might go direct via Napo HQ either by letter, if you want it to just go to the most appropriate person, it is probably best to address it to The General Secretary so that someone in his office can delegate it or send by email to : - info@napo.org.uk

      It is your Union - get involved in the process in ways that the constitution allows.

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  24. I'm finding the debate very interesting and agree with Netnipper.
    Joanna Hughes is right in that we need someone like Dino who is passionate for the right reasons and not for self-interest. I have already had some communication with Chas and he does seem like a fighter therefore he will be getting my vote.

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  25. Fuck me...this blog has reached it's nadir. you must be in cahoots with the MOJ jim.

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    1. I'll take that as meant ironically.

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