Sunday, 6 July 2014

Troops Getting Restless

This blog has a life of it's own and you can never tell what direction it's likely to go off in. The 'names out of the hat' story, apparently initiated by Napo according to Ian Lawrence in his latest blog but disputed by some, seems to have galvanised readers into questioning a lack of any industrial dispute being registered and demanding another ballot for industrial action:-  

Jim what about a mass walk out, legal challenge and a lengthy strike action? Enough people read this blog for us all to support each other in this, if we all walked out they can't sack us they will have no staff, and lets face it there's not a pool of staff they can turn to that can do our job.

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I'm finding it very difficult not to agree with the increasing view that some form of concerted strike action is not the way forward. Our areas cannot sack us if this is lawful strike action but this would have to come from Unison/NAPO so as to offer the required protection. At this stage I have few qualms about going out for several weeks. I'm at a stage where I do this via strike action or via sick leave. Whilst the latter leaves money in my pocket, the former would give more satisfaction and the loss of a few weeks pay would be more than recompense for the headache we would cause the MoJ (as well as sending a signal to buyers).

Lets do it I say.


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I think a strike now of several weeks would do the trick but we need both NAPO and Unison to call one together and perhaps the POA would agree to a work to rule. Surely the unions are talking about this and I can still see Grayling eating rats anus in the jungle. Come on "Lets Get him outta here"

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Hear hear. I second this motion. Lets hit the fucker when he's down.

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STRIKE NOW!! (Watch the new labourites in Napo panic and tell us why we mustn't do it!)

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Here was our opportunity - another own goal by Napo.

"The government is facing the largest one-day strike over pay by public sector workers since 2010 after firefighters announced they would join walkouts planned for 10 July by up to a million local government workers, civil servants, teachers, passport staff and health workers."

£20+ a month in subs for ???? A strategy-less group of people who get paid to sit in an office in London and send emails every now and then, while another gets £70k to write a lame blog. Why aren't we out on 10 July?


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Yes lets take industrial action, we must strike, it maybe our only hope to save the service. Com'n unions lets re-ballot and take strike action. There are plenty of disputes starting with the illegal shafting process.

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I have engaged fully with every Napo action and truly want Napo to survive. It's NOT the life-wrecking, up-all-night efforts of local activists or officials, its the lack of any nous at the centre that fucks me off. I'm equally irritated by holier-than-thou colleagues who quit Napo and joined Unison, but I know they won't be out on 10 July either. Okay, its a choice, but without solidarity its pointless to have a "union". Clue is in the name, I guess.

"UNISON local government and school support members in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will strike on 10 July."

Is Napo's refusal to join the 10 July action a toys-out-the-pram response?


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FBU aren't striking about pay claim, they're continuing their own dispute about pensions. The TIMING is the key. Napo told us they had a mandate to strike without further ballot when we were out on our jack jones last time. As mentioned elsewhere, aren't there enough disputes ongoing?

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What about dispute regarding privatisation of probation?
Dispute over no workload management tool
Dispute over the shafting of staff
Dispute over high cases
Dispute over health & safety
Dispute over .....


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Agree 100%, we need to dispute as stated above, and go on strike, there are plenty of disputes that the unions can use to call for a ballot to strike, I'm ready. LETS STRIKE.

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Why do the unions feel that we are not in dispute? Every person on this blog has highlighted again and again our poor working conditions affecting our health, people leaving the service in huge numbers, the de-professionalization of lots of Probation Officer, names picked out of a hat, shafting of staff, people going off sick due to unmanageable workloads, privatisation of an award winning service recognised by the world, unworkable IT system, and there's lots more, I am sure one of these amounts to us being in dispute. Maybe I'm not good at all this union stuff but people have taken strike action for less than what we are being put through. I thought unions are there to protect us. LETS STRIKE.

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STRIKE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

It does seem somewhat surprising that, despite this blog providing lots of examples of the scope and extent of the TR omnishambles over the last 5 weeks, Napo appears to have done very little with the information. We know the content is pored over extensively because I'm told the General Secretary mentions it regularly, but what are they doing down there at Chivalry Road with all the information being supplied to that special email address?

Members will recall that a weekly bulletin for Parliament would be produced, but I'm hearing our many friends at the Palace of Westminster feel they are not being briefed adequately. The latest can be found here and some may feel that it fails to reflect priorities or convey the serious operational failures evident everywhere in the Service at the present time.

Of course this could all be down to the dysfunctional nature of the leadership at Chivalry Road that I've alluded to on many occasions before. Hopefully this issue will be addressed by each of the candidates for National Chair as they prepare their election addresses and start campaigning in earnest over the coming weeks. 

Someone has got to get a grip on things and demonstrate some real leadership and strategic action because the troops are getting restless. Plenty for the NEC to ponder on then at their meeting next week?        

44 comments:

  1. Page 2 today's Independent on Sunday. Virtually full page article 'Probation reform 'train crash' poses risk to public safety'
    Deb

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    1. mentioned on Radio 4 this morning...MOJ rebuttal....the TR process is fine ... all is ' controlled and managed ' ....no worries there then !!!

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  2. Napo will continue to be a useless union as long as we keep paying subscriptions. There are many unions available, and little point being part of on that does less than nothing.

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    1. If this what you think why on earth are you still paying your subs? Oh and as you believe the alternatives are so many and wonderful please do tell us what they are doing in probation campaign

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    2. Probation Officer - that statement is not helpful and I have a great deal of sympathy with the view that says then go! If on the other hand you want the union to do rather more, why not help me and others on this blog exert a bit of constructive influence?

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    3. I am struggling to stay active in NAPO because the more I see of the prospective officials the more concern I have at this critical time of great challenge.
      I know there are lots of skilled colleagues but I can see very few examples of them coming forward to serve the union. I watched a very knowledgeable person come forward and be treated shabbily and marginalised, never to be seen again. I feel unable to support any of the candidates for national chair as in my view, they do not have the skills to deal with the officers who appear to be the cause of much of the concern expressed in this blog. Yes, the candidates have all served members well over time but I can not see any leadership potential and that is what is needed.

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    4. I feel exactly the same. I'm an active Napo member who did a stint on our branch exec a couple of years ago. I'm not unintelligent and have been active in other unions and pressure groups but I found Napo to be totally unfathomable, excessively complex and weighted toward 'who you know' in the top positions. Our branch is known to be one of the more influential but we weren't even quorate at our last meeting. Exec members are doubling up responsibilities and burning out. It's sad to see the union I thought I loved imploding in front of me just at the time that I needed it to be strong.

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    5. Re anon 14.40 intrigued that you know already who the candidates for Napo National Chair are as their names only went into Napo HQ by 4th July!

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    6. Exactly! Decent people but leadership ? NO NO NO

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    7. I am not the poster earlier but I was told the names by one of them so I think it is out there

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    8. As anon 17.06 am chastened to discover I am not "out there" !

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  3. Link www.independant.co.uk/news/uk/crime/probation-reform-train-crash-poses-a-risk-to-public-safety-9587241.html

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    1. Link is actually: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/probation-reform-train-crash-poses-a-risk-to-public-safety-9587241.html

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    2. Hundreds of criminal offenders across the country have not seen a probation officer for weeks, amid warnings from senior politicians that the coalition’s reforms are a “train crash” that pose “a risk to public safety”. The probation service has descended into chaos since it was reorganised at the start of last month in preparation for handing 70 per cent of the service’s management to the private sector, according to Westminster and union sources.

      Experts say the crisis has deepened since The Independent on Sunday revealed last month that computer failures have led to thousands of offenders’ case files being lost, frozen or wiped since IT changes were introduced on 2 June. This has resulted in huge backlogs of work and even in offenders being turned away from community service.

      Many probation officers are now reporting serious instances of strain or illness caused by overwork, while at the start of last week as many as 500 were estimated to have not received proper pay. More disturbingly, hundreds of examples are emerging of people on probation who have not been assigned an officer, meaning that they are walking free without any assessments on whether they pose an increased risk to the public since sentencing. One source suggested as many as 2,500 offenders could be without a probation officer.

      In a briefing to MPs, Napo, the probation officers’ union, said it had found 60 domestic violence cases “left in a cupboard with no offender manager” in the North Yorkshire region. A further 50, with at least one high-risk offender, have not been allocated in the South-west, while 291 cases in the South Yorkshire area have been passed to an officer “in name only”.

      Particularly problematic have been moves to divide the service in two, the report claims. High-risk offender files go to the National Probation Service, which will remain in state hands, and the rest go to community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) soon to be run by the private sector.

      In the Warwickshire and West Mercia area, the union says there is evidence that high-risk sex-offender cases have been incorrectly sent to the CRCs. IT restrictions introduced last month mean that tutors running sex-offender rehabilitation programmes cannot access individual files when they are with CRCs.

      The Napo briefing recommends that MPs on the Justice Select Committee ask the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, how rapidly the issues will be resolved and who is accountable if further serious offences occur in the meantime. It concludes: “Why has this situation been allowed to happen?”

      By coincidence, Mr Grayling faces wider questioning about his role, on Wednesday. Elfyn Llwyd, a Plaid Cymru MP and member of the committee, says he plans to raise the probation issues at the hearing. “The most worrying feature of all this is that it was entirely predictable,” said Mr Llwyd. “This is definitely a train crash in the making and is a risk to public safety. In fact, we’re about at that point now – this is a privatisation too far.”

      The unions have found around 500 examples of where officers have not been paid properly since the service was divided. Issues include not being paid for unsociable hours, which form a large slice of a probation officer’s salary which can be as low as £22,000, and pension contributions taken even if the officers have opted out of the scheme.

      Tania Bassett, a Napo official and former probation officer, said: “Supervision is a critical part of risk management. It enables officers to discuss a person’s circumstances and any changes that might be a risk trigger, such as increased alcohol use.

      “Without it, huge amounts of work and information gathering isn’t done and the person is just being left to continue their behaviour. This might mean they could be living with their victim and no one would know, or having contact with children when they pose a risk.”

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    3. Mr Grayling believes that transforming 35 probation trusts into 21 CRCs run by the private sector will result in a more efficient and less costly service. Private-sector contractors and mutual companies formed by probation officers will be selected as preferred bidders for the £800m-a-year contracts by the end of 2014.

      The shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, said: “The chaos caused by the Government’s reckless privatisation of probation is getting worse by the week, and still ministers are in denial about how bad things are getting. David Cameron needs to intervene personally and halt immediately Chris Grayling’s crazy plans before someone gets hurt.”

      A MoJ spokesman said: “With any change of this scale, it is normal to experience some issues, which is why we prepared so extensively for it. The vast majority of staff were paid without issue. We are implementing these reforms in a controlled and measured way. We will not take risks with public safety.”

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    4. 'A MoJ spokesman said: “With any change of this scale, it is normal to experience some issues, which is why we prepared so extensively for it'.

      That is a disgraceful misrepresentation. The whole thing was pushed through recklessly and the train crash is a direct consequence of that recklessness. No pilots, no preparation. Like cowboy builders, they flicked the switch and hoped for the best. The developing disaster was predicted by many including Probation Senior Management. They will not be allowed to spin their way out of this one.
      .

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    5. @ Anon 12:33

      Wanna bet?

      As the responsible OM the blame lies squarely at our door. Please doe snot be naïve enough to think that when one of your MAPPA cases goes Postal that a high caseload will save you; it will not. It is YOUR job and indeed responsibility to both manage your cases and raise concerns. This is not me having a go at you and please don't think that it is, it's just me being practical about the situation. If anyone on here thinks for one minute that they will come up smelling of roses from any SFO, please feel free to correct me. Deep down we all know that we are ALL in a very dangerous position and whilst the line is holding at the moment, it will not take too much additional strain for it to break.

      Still, as long as Delius is up to date, ISP/terminations completed and reports done, managers do not appear to give an airborne act of copulation!!!

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    6. That is more than a little alarmist. SFOs happen all of the time and I know of no officer who has ever been disciplined for their part in one, even before the increased workloads that follow TR. I am not saying that isn't any pressure, just to keep some perspective on the reality of the situation for practitioners.

      NB I am a 24 year time servied PSO/PO/SPO and a union rep for over 10 years and have actually NEVER represented anyone who was discipled following an SFO.

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    7. Wise words backed up with 24 years of experience; it would be foolish for some to ignore you. The concern is that this experience occurred pre-TR, when the Trust has some autonomy and were not answerable to NOMS or the Civil Service. With the changes that have occurred, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes. I've never been involved in a SFO (touches wood) but given the goings on at present, the blame culture by mangers, the inability (or unwillingness) to take control on a daily basis, I do not fancy my chances should I be involved in a SFO from this point on. Statistically it's more likely to be the CRC and I do have very real concerns that whichever private company comes in may 'shoot first and aim later' should an SFO occur.

      Interesting times lie ahead!

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    8. The de-centralisation of the NPS is bound to change how people views on how OM's actions have or have not impacted on the supervision of anyone who commits a SFO. I also agree with the second point in that the new owners of CRC's may adopt a 'pour encourager les autres' attitude and hang the OM out to dry.

      BTW, "May you live in interesting times" is actually an old Chinese curse.

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    9. Anon 14.20 is right and sorry Anon 15.15 but last year in my old trust there were 4 POs taken to disciplinary hearings following SFOs.

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    10. I don't think there is a right or wrong here, just a realisation that we must cover our backs. It would be remiss of Trusts not to take action if there was negligence by an officer (although I fully accepts that I do not know the specifics of the four PO's circumstances). That said, I agree and am concerned that private companies may not know how to deal with the fallout of a SFO and are more prone to looking to blame someone rather than looking to either remedy the problem or ensure that it does not occur in the future.

      Oh, and Sodhexo were the ones who were giving our kids Turkey Twizzlers when they had catering contracts with schools. I'm not judging their morals but at 8p a go it's difficult to argue against the proposition that finances were not a factor behind this decision.

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    11. Anon at 15:15 - following a SFO the Trust tried to crucify me, never mind disciple (sic) me. I don't wish anyone the experience. Sadly, as a commentator said the other day, the perfect storm is brewing for SFOs to hit nationwide.

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    12. I wish SOD-exo would fuck off and leave the probation service alone, and take their bastard bid with them.

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  4. Thanks for correcting the link - please Jim or the original poster at 10.13 - remove that one - I think the problem is caused by an 'e' transposed as an 'a'

    Also - please do not presume all Anon posters are part of the campaign to stop, or reverse TR, especially those rubbishing Napo. It is very possible some are provocative trolls.

    Napo is ultimately as good as all of its members.

    Much good work is being done, including locally, right now employees of NOMs, NPS, and CRCs need to be a member of a trades union that they are fully active in or the defence will be weaker and there is more likely to be damage done to individual members all who benefit from the terms previously negotiated by the unions and some are and will benefit from individual representation, as I did when my probation career came to an untimely and unplanned end.

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  5. On a local basis i'd always stay with NAPO for the simple fact the reps have a good working knowledge of the management and policies. I had the misfortune to need them last year and only for the fact they had historical instances of similar situations they were able to help me and I doubt another union would have been as effective.

    In the current climate we all have to bear in mind that locally we're all at a heightened risk of needing a rep for capability/disciplinary/sickness reasons. I'd never want to go into a sickness meeting unrepresented.

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  6. Cumbria and Lancs6 July 2014 at 12:31

    I think that all those calling for strike action now are likely to be those of us who stood the lines twice in an attempt to derail TR- it's those who didn't come out last time that we need in order to have a strike with any impact but as soon as Napo call for a ballot watch those excuses fly.....

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  7. Well it's either strike or sick. I was told on Friday to expect to do the first appointments for all cases, even if the RSR tool indicates that they are going to CRC. Apparently a new PI that is on it's way next week. I'm not at all sure how mangers think we can fit this in but I hope the clients don't mind we typing my PSR's when I'm inducting them!!

    I hear a lot on here about the issues in the CRC. I can assure you that they are just as bad in the NPS, with a chain of command that is longer than a long thing and not one person willing to accept responsibility. I all ever hear is Noms this and Noms that. We are all royally fucked and if this new PI does come to pass I swear by all that is Holy that I will just drop my diary off on my managers desk and walk out of the building as I have just about enough.

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    1. Sick rather than strike for me. All the classic symptoms of stress are engulfing me. Asthma out of control, skin breaking out in nastiness, allergic to everything, gynaecological disturbances that many readers won't want further details about, sleep totally disturbed - either can't do it or can't stay awake, don't get me started on food, drinking like a fish, not always getting dressed, isolating from friends - either not answering the phone or giving excuses not to go out because I'm busy with all of the above, haven't washed a dish in a week, laundry basket overflowing -it's easier to buy a new tee shirt at ASDA than do the washing. Believe it or not the anti-depressants are helping! All this at a time in my life when I should be feeling financially secure, relatively healthy and I haven't got young or old family people to care about. Thanks Chris Grayling, this is what you have done to me.

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    2. My thoughts go out to you. I don't think there is much more you can do but please keep your local union rep in the loop in case you have to go sick.

      Have you every thought of speaking to a no win, no fee solicitor as your illness is quite clearly linked to the stress of the TR, something which, laughably, your employer has control over. The compensation might be sufficient for a little break for you and your family to help you recover.

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    3. Makes me angry reading this. Wer are the F'ing managers who should be spotting these symptoms and providing the relevant support. Anybody says that managers know what ppl feel or going through need to have their F'ing heads checked out bastards. Don't give a shot about staff just themselves.

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  8. New PIs are coming thick and fast to cover the cracks created by TR but, of course, as is always the case when things are done in haste, they only serve to aggravate the situation. I am not sure where this is all going to go but it is an embarassing debacle for all involved. I foresee bidders withdrawing and those who win being the subject of ridicule within weeks of taking over. They are buying a used car without checking the mileage.

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    1. there was quite a big error made in my office last week. It was nobody's fault it's just that we all (incl TM) made an assumption that when we were all one Trust would've been fine but not as separate entities.

      We're literally learning as we go along.

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  9. I've lost a file. Despite numerous emails around the office, no one can find it (probably because they have not even looked). If everyone can check their shelves to see if they have a unknown person on I would be extremely grateful :)

    Honestly, it's been missing for a week and nobody can find it. How does this happen? We must have a file fairy who comes in the office and nicks stuff, including my coffee :)

    On a more serious note, two more have absconded from HMP Kirkham. I can see another knee jerk reaction from Grayling.

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  10. I've got 23 unknown persons. The file fairy is giving me special treatment :-)

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    1. Better than the f*ck up fairy paying a visit :)

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  11. I made the strongest of suggestions at out most recent branch meeting that we should walk out on the 10th July in solidarity with our public sector brothers and sisters! It was decided in the end to give up our lunch breach that day PATHETIC. Shows how far removed we are from the majority of clients we claim to represent! the following day colleagues stopped me to say we are up for it, about time we took a stand. Lets not think about the next exotic holiday or were the money will come from for the next set of double glazing and lets fight for what we have and believe in TODAY FOR ALL OF OUR TOMORROW'S! lets not forget we are the union! and if they won't do it we will have to look at wild cat strikes.

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  12. The kids are in bed and I have a bottle of Prosecco with my name on it. Do you think anyone would mind if I took what was left to work tomorrow. It might just help :)

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    1. you need to be careful - there is a PI for Staff Alcohol Misuse - it is PI 47/14 :)

      If you are reporting for work under the influence apparently you are putting yours and others health and safety at risk. If you mention it to your line manager then it can be dealt with sensitively and help is available. Failure to seek help for alcohol problems can lead to dismissal. Breathalysers can be used if the accused consents at a cost of £255 + vat per test so that an accurate reading can be made to determine the current state of play ie is someone's suspected of being tipsy but denies it then management can ask them to provide a sample of breath.

      I also see from the PI that if anyone consents to a test they need to be watched like a hawk and 'escorted to any toilet facilities and allowed their privacy in the cubicle' so that they cannot say they could have drunk alcohol by accident in the interim period that could have been given to them by a colleague or whomever.

      Flaming Nora!!!

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    2. Once you switch delius on you will need more than one bottle!!!!Perhaps you could do a collection at the office and everyone can have one on their desks, it feels like its a must to cope with this hell that we are being dragged through.

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  13. Jim I agree with you I am getting very restless, cannot not cope with the work, and no action from the unions we need to fight the TR, before its too late. We need to cut out all the crap and take action, and we need the unions to support us. Why are they so scared to take action. Judging from some of the comments we are in meltdown and staff are suffering, can the unions not see this.

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    1. Too busy sniping at each other and pursuing alternative career options....

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  14. I wish I was part of the London Transport Union, because as soon as they mention the word strike they get what they want.

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  15. Can'tRememberCasefile(location)21 July 2014 at 23:53

    misplaced only ONE file?....I hear they've lost a whole working computer system in Manchester....and a whole Office in London!

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