Friday, 26 September 2014

A Reality Check - Update

A day is a long time in politics as they say and my last somewhat depressing blog post about the lack of any legal challenge of TR has stimulated some urgent action in certain quarters. Not surprisingly it's dividing opinion with some gearing up for possible emergency motions at the AGM and others all for throwing the towel in as a lost cause. What I don't accept is this:-
The worst thing is giving the membership false hopes by talking about trying to get the union to mount a legal challenge. It's the stuff of fairy tales, ain't gonna happen any time soon. Just remember what we are dealing with, it's called a David and Goliath battle, because taking on the government isn't easy. The government has infinite resources, we don't! It's about being SMARTA about all this and getting a grip on reality all ready. Please wake up, it's too late to do anything now so just save your energies look for alternative employment that will value your skills. Probation as we new it is well and truly dead. RIP Probation. 
The thing I really find reprehensible is the leading of members up the garden path. I notice it being said on Facebook that my information is wrong, that the NEC was told something different and that Napo HQ will be telling everyone what the position is 'next week'. My response is simple. We will find out where the truth lies 'next week', but I'm sticking with what I've said because I believe it's true.  

The whole thing has been mismanaged from the beginning, possibly in the naive belief that the MoJ would be impressed with bullshit and bluster and simply 'cave in'. Maybe it was felt the membership would be similarly impressed for that matter. What we do know is that some 12 months down the line we are no further forward with a legal challenge, but some £100,000 lighter in the pocket according to more recent information. 

I'm all for recriminations at the appropriate time, but right now I think many members want some bloody action instead in order to stop the share sale, confirmed I hear for 19th December and not October as some people seem to believe. 

This blog doesn't do fairy tales and neither does Joanna Hughes and she has a definite offer of a 'brainstorming' session with a well-qualified lawyer with a view to quickly reviewing the situation and giving a second opinion as to the possibility of a legal challenge. Although not a pro bono offer, it is a generous offer and but a tiny fraction of what has been expended by Napo so far.

In the spirit of wanting action rather than a bloody row, I understand Joanna will be putting the proposal formally to the Napo leadership in the next few days and she has promised to keep us all updated as to the response. The main problem of course will become how will the decision be made, whether to proceed or not, if the second opinion proves to be optimistic and possibly based on differing criteria? The costs could be considerable and of course there is never a guarantee of success. 

Not just thinking of self interest, but of society generally, I know some members feel strongly that it's a no-brainer - that there must be a legal challenge whilst ever the Union has resources at its disposal. Many feel that if TR cannot be stopped, there will be no probation to speak of and hence no Union. Others, and possibly the majority of Napo's leadership, may well think differently. Whatever, members had better continue to make their views known, and possibly start agitating for a ring-fenced fighting fund rather sooner than later.    

25 comments:

  1. I read this daily,I have responded before. I have been a probation officer for over 26 years and my faith in the union is at an all time low. I've gone on strike when asked, attended conference a couple of times and feel napo is impotent since Harry Fletcher left. I have great respect for Joanna Hughes (not that I've ever met her,i just read her!) and would have so much more faith and motivation if she was negotiating/ steering our cause at the helm of our union.....

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  2. Disgusting tactics by Unison described in yesterday's blog. Being the conspiracy theorist that Iam I can only assume such poaching tactics are with Napos blessing as surely TUC would have something to say about it. Anyway folks DONT JOIN UNISON. I was on sick with work related stress due to unmanagble workload and IT system and was sacked after 27years and UNISON have refused to represent me at what I was lead to believe was an open and shut unfair dismissal case. ACAS told me that public service unions are currently reluctant to take anything to tribunal. For that read they are all feeding from the same trough. My advice would be save your subscriptions and buy some good insurance for when the time comes if you haven't got out by now.

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  3. I too have been a Probation Officer for 30 years and have been a NAPO member for all of that time. I have been eternally grateful to the local reps who have assisted me in times of trouble with management, I have gone out on strike when instructed, picketed, gone to see my MP at his surgery and lobbied him in Parliament. From a local point of view I attend branch meetings and I see well meaning, committed members of the union fighting for their members and to save a profession we were all proud to be part of - BUT- I have now reached the point of no return with the national leadership of this union, who have shown anything but leadership and have made the decision that unless they start actually fighting to save my job, rather than their own playoffs and being more open and honest with the members who actually pay their salaries, I will resign and give myself a 1% pay rise until I am sacked or made redundant.

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  4. I too am disillusioned with NAPO. By the time AGM has come and gone it will be too late for a judicial review. Sold out by NAPO that has negotiated rubbish terms and conditions

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  5. As a NAPO Union Rep, an NPS Manager and on a local level committed to supporting members and challenging TR, I have been disappointed by the lack of leadership by IL/NAPO, the dysfunction at the top table, the lack of media opportunities (which has improved slightly, too little too late) and no JR! I blogged that if you Tippex out Legal Aid and put in TR the JR would be on it's way, simplistic but true, there are many commonalities! I'm not going to throw in the towel to NAPO as with members we have more power, we just need to mobilise it and use it. Has anyone written an emergency motion, I would happily second it or even help write it?

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  6. NAPO's only strategy imo appears to have been to risk all on a David and Goliath defeat of Grayling rather than a more considered death by a thousand cuts approach ( forgive the mixed metaphors) to defeating Grayling by Judicial Review.
    I believe the strategy should have been to get test cases before Employment Tribunals within the 3 months ( minus 1 day) of the staff split. There were many examples of discriminatory behaviour on the part of the employers (the individual Trusts at that point) in the selection process that would have tested under the Equality Act for example. Successful cases would have then been the building blocks for JR.
    Where NAPO went wrong is not even building this into the strategy and we appear to have Officers and Officials who suddenly became blinded by their need to shine and their own sense of importance on the big stage and lost sight of what matters, serving the membership. My view is that by looking at the bigger picture and engaging with the employer at national level, the Union allowed itself to be drawn away from "the small stuff" and the many individual cases at local level that really, with support nationally, could have drawn blood. Somehow, those at Chivalry Road, have lost sight of the bread and butter union business - look at the evidence from past blogs/posts that stated how hard it was to contact them and get responses for the local reps.
    Sadly most split issues will now be out of date - but I urge anyone who is now suffering a detriment to take it to your local reps because that may just allow the ET clock to start ticking again. Then get each and every case to the national reps via either the Gen Sec or Assistant Gen Sec. Each ET case would provide evidence and then the JR case starts to build.

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    1. Agreed.My line manager told me that in his opinion employees had their employment rights trampled on.I certainly fall into that group but having now left the Probation Service because of TR any case I might have had is defunct.The say in which the split was carried out has been the most outrageous aspect of the whole matter.

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    2. My early grievance was ignored through the application of various HR strategies, now its out of time. I'm so exhausted I don't really care anymore. Over 50 cases as CRC PO, 32 are DV perpetrators. I'm on my knees most days. Most have been sentenced 'fast delivery' so no oasys. Its my job to complete an initial plan & full oasys within 20 days. I was allocated 7 in the space of a few days. Rather than put myself on sick or in hospital I'm tempted to wait until I'm sacked or there's the offer of a leaving package.

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    3. This sounds terrible! Hope you are finding support from somewhere and hope your branch is taking issue with caseloads like this? How can anyone (and some are on Twitter)extol the freedom for innovation within CRCs when collegues are shackled with unrealistic demands like this. Testgate 4 is supposed to "testing" thst the split is working safely and well.Examples like this illustrate it is NOT working-hope your area is presenting the facts to MoJ

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    4. To be honest, I don't think the CRC mgmt team are bothered about amything except pleasing their bidder. I suspect they already know exactly who's in the frame, which is why we're being whipped into submission - in preparation for the invasion of the profit snatchers. The "executive" know they're vulnerable to being axed so are playing hardball to impress their new masters: "look at me, I'm just like you. I'm tough, not a wet public sector wimp."

      Desperate, pathetic and shameful.

      "It ain't about the money". Oh yes it is, panto villain Graything. Its about the money you & your chums will trouser.

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    5. I agree there should have been test cases. Those of us sifted to crc have been treated appallingly. Despite my grievance they took a temp into the NPS. Just the fact that we have different terms and conditions should be enough. When I was on strike in the eighties that was the first thing that happened it then went to the Europeana court.

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  7. Anon 15.40 many of us want an EM but not sure how to go about it . People on here and in the probation Facebook group . I wonder if the NEC don't want JR cos the lawyers that the top table brought in were brought in to put them off

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    1. To anon 16.24 I have previously posted info about Napo procedures on emergency motions (EM).There are 2 places to consider taking an EM -the AGM or the NEC. As AGM is coming up next and is opportunity for every member who can, to attend,thats the better option. Then decision has to be made (a)what the EM will propose and (b)who will propose and second it(ie who will speak to it).It has to be sent in in writing to Gen Sec or Jeanne Peall Chair of steering committee(could be handed in at AGM) and satisfy criteria for being an emergency (see previous post as rather lengthy to retype! I'll add which day I put it on here). What we need to decide is wording of motion and this may need interested parties having a way of sharing ideas (say via email addresses shared via Jim or Joanna if they are willing?)and then coming back here for views possibly?? Would need 2 full members prepared to go to AGM to propose and second and have others willing to speak to support as necessary.There is info on procedure on Napo website if you type in constitution in search box..not as complicated as it might sound. Motions can also be submitted by branches but then members have to submit motion to a branch meeting first and if passed the motion would then be submitted in branch name and would still need 2 people to speak to it.

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    2. The previous post I made was under the Whats in prospect blog 20/09 as anon 10:10 on 21/09 and explains criteria for an EM. I have tried to copy and paste it for you without success.

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    3. Thanks Anonymous 18:37 I have copied your post from 21/09 at 10:10 here for info:

      To anon 23:55 it can be sent in by any 2 Napo members or a branch. It has to be submitted in writing to either Ian Lawrence or Chair of Steering Committee (staff at Chivalry Rd could confirm who that is) and hss to meet following criteria: it must relate to urgent matters which (1)have arisen since closing date for motions (2)which cannot be dealt with in any other way (3)which are of such gravity as to justify rearrangement of business. Steering Cttee then check if motion meets that criteria and if they think it does it goes on AGM agenda.If they dont think it meets the criteria the propser of motion has 2 minutes to challenge the ruling and then members of AGM vote whethrr to accrpt Steering Cttee ruling or not. In order to deal with point 1 (that its an issue thats arisen since closing date fir ordinary motions) linking emergency motion to recent success of legal profession might work.

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  8. If it comes to money as being the barrier to JR I would gladly chip in .
    Surely some sort of crowd funding could get this going

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  9. I don't have much money but woukd chip in what I could

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  10. Merseyside NAPO have sent work out that they have arranged a meeting on 23rd Oct for middle managers - they hope a National Officer will be able to attend. The meeting has been caused due to Merseyside NAPO reps receiving a number of emails from managers highlighting their concerns both in the CRC and NPS and these will form the basis of the agenda (Shared Services, workloads, role and responsibilities etc). The branch is also hoping to organise meetings for other grades and/or grades prior to 2015.

    Ironically, a couple of hours earlier Annette Hennessey, CEO updated her blog with threats of further updates. Quite wisely she has closed the blog to anonymous commenters :) http://www.merseysidecrc.co.uk/chiefs-blog

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    1. Can we please have more examples of these CEO blogs for wider distribution - either cut and paste on here or my email address is on the profile page. Thanks.

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    2. We have an area magazine but I am tired of senior managers' blogs in which they take turns to post posting their happy home events- intellectually shallow and disingenuous. Let the posts be amusing kittens and puppies with toilet rolls and motherhood and apple pie . How stupid do they think we are?

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  11. It is great if middle manager members are speaking up! AT LAST!!

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  12. CEOs are all fiddling while Rome burns and that goes for CRC & NPS. Its like they are either unable or unwilling to face the reality that staff are crumbling under the strain. Staff are there now simply to pay their mortgages - the job isn't a pleasure anymore its a chore and people are dropping like flies. A new to probation PSO who started in May now has a caseload of 60 female cases. The atmosphere's terrible, we're running round like headless chickens and working allsorts of flexi that we never seem to have time to take.

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    1. Its the same in our office, only mainly NPS staff are talking with their feet, and going off on sick leave. I have never seen anything like this the stress on the remaining staff is unbearable and no one has any answers, instead ACE's seem to think that all is okay, teething problems and all that denial shit, they must be working in some sort of parallel universe. It is horrendous and they are desperately trying to paper the cracks by employing more and more agency staff some of whom are not even qualified to do the job. 4 months down the road and nothing has improved instead things have got drastically worse.

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  13. I am tired of senior managers' posts in our CRC blog of happy home lives with cute kids and the lessons for working together -disingenuous and insulting to our intelligence-( and exploitative of children) please be more honest and just include pictures of kittens and puppies with toilet rolls and motherhood and apple pie and cease the Pollyanna nonsense that there's a hope for TR.

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  14. Heard today of an office in my area where one CRC PO was covering the caseloads of 5 POs as all the others were off sick, on leave or on training. No help from the NPS (and rightly so, given that this is their 'operating model'. 'Not operating', more like.

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