Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Latest From Napo 38

Following a long period of radio silence from Napo, we finally have a mailout to all members earlier today:-

Dear all

As the general election run in commences, we have now reached the business end of our anti-TR campaign, and this update brings you up to speed on the latest issues.

Terms and conditions
Firstly, ongoing negotiations are taking place fortnightly with NOMS HR representatives. These have centred around harmonisation of terms and conditions across the NPS. NOMS is keen to reduce 35 sets of T&C's into just one so that they can use shared services more efficiently. Napo agrees in principle to harmonisation for those of you working in the NPS, but we intend to ensure that this exercise doesn’t disadvantage members in any way. We are determined that members working in the 21 CRCs are equally well served. National collective bargaining is non-negotiable!

TR exchanges
Secondly, we continue our regular meetings with senior NOMS and MOJ management on the TR programme. Here, the probation unions continue to ask many questions about this omnishambles but you won’t be surprised to hear that NOMS have found an equal number of ways not to answer them. Grayling continues to refuse disclosure of the list of runners and riders bidding to buy the CRCs, yet this information is being disclosed around the country by the bidders themselves!

At the same time NOMS continues to peddle the delusional view that everything is ‘on track’ for the sale of the CRCs. This despite the fact we all know the original sale date of October has now slipped to December.

More obfuscation by Grayling
Thirdly, we are continuing to press for information about the risks associated with the split of probation into two parts. NOMS claim they have risk assessed everything thus far, but refuse, despite repeated requests and Freedom of Information enquiries, to publish anything at all about any of its TR risk assessments. We have been told that TR has been subject to 3 testing processes up to now, referred to as Testgates 1, 2 & 3, but NOMS flatly refuses to publish any details. We have also been asking for input into the final testing process: Testgate 4 which the MoJ agreed to following Napo's legal pressure. Just two weeks ago we were informed this exercise would take between 6 to 8 weeks, now we are told this can all be done in less than one month! Needless to say it leaves us just a little sceptical that this will be worth no more than the paper it is written on, but if you should be asked to have input into it locally please do so, and let us have a report of how it went?

It's still not over
Finally, and despite some quite astonishing and patronising communications that we have seen from one or two CRC chiefs, the sell off of the contracts hasn't happened yet. Even NOMS admits that it only has ‘at least one bidder’ per contract area; so much for competition. We’ve also been informed recently that the payment by results element of the private contracts won’t include unpaid work but only those orders comprising unpaid work plus a curfew. These account for something totalling 40% of the CRC workloads so there are obviously some cold feet at NOMS about exactly how they expect PbR to help reduce reoffending. After all, the HMP Peterborough and Doncaster pilots haven’t exactly been a resounding success despite Graylings pathetic spin campaign.

All of these issues, and many more, suggest serious deficiencies in the whole TR process. Therefore, Napo is continuing to pursue our legal strategy towards the possibility of seeking a judicial review (JR) of one or more aspects of Grayling’s failings. In light of recent developments we are currently in talks with Unison and GMB to explore the prospects for a combined approach This is a seriously complex process and had it been possible to simply press the JR button months ago we would obviously have done so but we expect that developments over the next fortnight or so will be crucial in this respect. Meanwhile, please be assured that Napo continues to do everything in our power to prevent the privatisation of two thirds of our members jobs but, as we have always said, this is a long and tough campaign.

As we head towards the AGM it is essential that we all stick together, demonstrate our unity, and maximise all opportunities to highlight the untested, untried and unworkable intended sale of the probation service. As we have made clear at this weeks Trade Union Congress, where Napo has featured prominently in the debates and fringe events, we welcome the Labour Party's commitment that it intends to review any contacts awarded under the corrupt and unaccountable TR share sale if it should form the next government, but we are pushing them to go one step more and revoke any contracts that might be awarded and to pull the plug entirely if the share sale doesn’t happen before next May. As you would expect, we are also targeting the Libdems to help them see the light and urging them to do something tangible for once, to prevent Grayling completing his ill conceived and reckless social experiment. It’s nowhere near a done deal yet.

We look forward to seeing many of you in Scarborough.

Ian Lawrence General Secretary and the Napo Officers
(Chris Pearson, Chris Winters, Yvonne Pattison, Megan Elliott, Keith Stokeld)

And here is the latest blog post from Ian Lawrence, Napo General Secretary:-

TUC 2014 - News from Liverpool
Napo has had a really successful couple of days here in the maritime quarter of this great city. This morning our two motions seeking support to oppose the TR disaster and the sale of Children's Services were successfully moved by myself and Yvonne Pattison whose speech was especially well received.

Tania Bassett also secured some great coverage for Napo in today's Morning Star TUC special, which is handed out to all those entering the Convention Centre, and has also been busy sharing the speaking engagements at two of the four fringe events that Napo has been invited to.

Apart from that, and the constant interface between the Napo delegation and many old and new contacts, I convened a really useful 12 person telephone conference yesterday involving leading Counsel on the ongoing quest to see whether we can successfully challenge Chris Grayling's TR shambles in the High Court. I cannot report on all that was discussed for obvious reasons, but suffice to say we had other interested parties on the line and the talks provided a timely health check on the progress of our legal campaign and the potential next steps that may be available to us if the MoJ persist with their strategy of self-delusion and blatant obstruction.

Cramming a lot in
Since arriving in Liverpool I have been engaged in constructive talks with PCS over Napo's representational rights in NOMS, listened to Ed Milliband explain the case against an independent Scotland and met with Labours latest rising star Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary. I also put the new head of ACAS on alert that their services might be needed again if Noms try to renege on the TR Staff Transfer Agreement and I updated a number of visiting MP's at last nights General Council dinner as well as Napo's favourite social commentator Owen Jones (the Guardian), about the TR situation.

In stark contrast to all this, I am also trying to arrange for the delegation to meet with an especially courageous woman Martha Diaz, whose trade union activities in Colombia (helping people and speaking out against injustice) have caused her to be targeted by right wing death squads who have twice tried to assassinate her.

As I listen to an earnest but dreadfully dull speech from the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, (who resembles a younger Sean Connery but is not half as interesting) I have had to remind myself to avoid another justified ear bend from Kath Falcon for being late with my AGM report and programme introduction which are definitely next on the 'to do' list!


  1. "Devopments over the next forthnight or so"??? Like what?

  2. In the proper Post today I have had -

    " A message from Ian Lawrence, General secretary,

    Dear Napo member,

    Its been just over a year since I was elected ...... "

    It goes on for another three pages - that I won't copy type.

    The bloke is TRYING .. of that there is little doubt.. but I gave up reading half way down the second side - It does not seem to have reached the Napo website - maybe that is the idea -- anyway I shall refrain from commenting much about the content now - I guess ALL Napo members will get their own

    Its the the second mail-out in about ten days - the last was the AGM motions - for balloting - even though as an associate member - I do not have a vote - I think I told them about that back in the Jonathan Ledger days, but I am not sure if I did actually get round to it - I cannot see a few votes from unenfranchised associate members having much impact on the price of fish and meaning of life!

    However, they could have saved stamps and paper by coordinating the mailings and just sending one - it would leave more dosh for the JR and redundancy pots!

    On the back is an uplifting message from Frances O'Grady TUC Gen Sec
    - who includes: -

    "I want to formally express (she is no wordsmith!) the TUC's support .. blah blah ,... against T.... R.... blah blah "which WOULD* see a drastic split of prbn" blah blah for another paragraph and a bit"

    MY* EMPHASIS -- wow she is behind the times the split is history!!

  3. Flippant remarks about important-sounding stuff on the to do list do not inspire confidence. Looks like the towel went in from the NAPO corner and they are just waiting for the MC to raise Grayling's hand.

  4. Some CRC PO/PSO are being instructed to supervise standalone UPW but if, they are not part of PbR, then why should we be managing them?

    1. UPW will not be part of the PbR contract- unless it is also accompanied by a curfew?
      I may appear pretty thick for asking this, but will that mean UPW will also be split into two cohorts? And what will the payment scheme be for those not on curfew or tagged?
      That surely has to complicate any contract even before its signed, and provide a serious possibility for miscalculation of fees?

    2. Isn't the clue in the name? Unpaid Work.

      If you're capita (under their trading name "ems"), you're in the money - g4s & serco have already demonstrated how easy it is to rob from the public purse over a protracted period, claim to have misinterpreted the terms of the contract and pay back a fraction of the monies taken. Even the MoJ's SRO, pantomime Dame Ursula, doesn't have a clue how much the MoJ should be repaid; and the out-of-comptroller Sir Aimless Remorse seems to think that if Rupert 'The Bear' Soames goes home and has a bit more of a thunk, maybe the figures will tally. Probably after a couple of bottles of vintage claret...

    3. Don't forget - from Telegraph etc, Nov 2013

      "Atos, G4S paid no corporation tax last year despite carrying out £2billion of taxpayer-funded work
      Two of the country’s biggest private contractors paid no corporation tax in Britain last year, despite carrying out billions of pounds of taxpayer funded work for the Government, an official audit finds"

  5. Off topic but please read this its astonishing, and as they say, theres got to more to come.

    1. And this snippet from the Guardian:-

      Wednesday 10 September 2014 23.00 BST• More news of the overactive justice secretary: Chris Grayling’s empire has devised a cunning plan. After triumphs at the Department for Work and Pensions he moved to the Ministry of Justice, where his enthusiasm for contracting-out knows no bounds. Most offender management is being outsourced, save for the hardest cases and those involving celebs, which will continue to be supervised by a rump public probation service. Mindful that the coming months may bring regime change, MoJ negotiators have been told to insert into contracts a proviso that if a future government tries to break them, it would have to guarantee contractors the equivalent of the profit they would have made for the duration of the contract. In some cases this could be as much as £400m. So if Labour were elected in 2015 and tried to pull out of Grayling’s probation arrangements, it could face huge financial penalties. Huge financial penalties. A few weeks ago the American company Raytheon won £750m from UK taxpayers after the Home Office pulled out of its busted e-borders contract. So even when the Gray-man is gone, he might cost the nation a pretty penny.

    2. Which now makes sense (to me) of Mrs Hodge's tweety-pie thing earlier.

      Thanks, anon23:11

    3. The watchinga4e piece:

      "When it was revealed that G4S and Serco had been overcharging by millions on the offender tagging contracts we were assured by Chris Grayling that they would be barred from bidding for any more contracts until a thorough investigation had been carried out (including an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office). But then, a few days after G4S were pronounced "cleared" (though not be the SFO)
      they were included in the list of bidders for the probation contracts - so they must have been tendering while supposedly barred. Well, it's now clear; they were never barred in the first place. That's just one of the revelations to come out of the latest hearings of the Public Accounts Committee. As the Guardian reported on Monday, the chair of the PAC, Margaret Hodge, was shocked. The hearings continued today, and the shambles which outsourcing has become was laid bare. Two of the top civil servants in the procurement area are fairly new in the job, and have bags of experience. They were interviewed today, and said they had found that the people doing the work didn't have the skills, experience or competence for the job. There was no contract management. Applications to vary the contracts were numerous, and with one particular contract there had been so many that no one could now remember what the original contract specified. Basically (although they didn't put it like this) the companies have been running rings round the government.
      There is obviously a lot more to come out about specific contracts. Right at the end Margaret Hodge reduced the G4S chap to quivering silence when she demanded to know if it was true that in the probation contracts it was specified that if the contract was terminated by either side before it was completed, the company would get the full amount of the contract. Apparently it is true - and she didn't like it.
      The last Labour government started this outsourcing bonanza. When the coalition got in they didn't stop to find out whether the competence was there to do it; they just went ahead and outsourced everything that hadn't already been flogged off. And we have been paying the price."

    4. So Mr Soames - or any of the diligent, higher rate taxpaying CEOs - won't have too much to complain about when they receive their £400Million guaranteed profits from the taxpayer. It probably works out that they'll just be given back the personal taxes they paid in. Not sure where they stand on corporate taxes, but maybe there'll be some consideration & compensation for the inconvenience & cost of having to hire forensic accountants who helped them avoid paying corporation tax?

    5. Mr Soames made it clear during his PAC experience;

      "Soames: ... I think that there should be a new dispensation, a new way of thinking about how companies do business with the Government, which is that companies owe a duty of care to the taxpayer. I regard every pound that comes into Serco as partly my pound, because I’m a substantial taxpayer; it’s my money that is coming in to pay for this and I bloody well want to see that it’s properly looked after. We have duties of care to our colleagues in terms of health and safety and to our shareholders, and I don’t see why we should not regard ourselves as having a duty of care to the taxpayer, which means to say that you don’t make excessive profits and that you give good service. I frankly think that that is a more constructive approach than the “transparency and fairness” agenda, for the very simple reason that I think transparency and fairness only works if it’s two-way."