TO NAPO MEMBERS:
In the missive I sent to members on Friday I said that a further statement would be issued by the Officers Group. I did receive it on Friday afternoon but unfortunately, due to technical problems, I have not been able to circulate it to members until this morning.
From : Ian Lawrence ( General Secretary) and the Napo Officer Group
Following a very productive meeting with branch chairs/ representatives in London yesterday we wanted to send out a summary of the key issues discussed for circulation to branch members.
The meeting was held on a very sad day for us all given that the Secretary of State went ahead with the signing of the CRC contracts as per his timetable towards formal share sale and the intended go live operational date of 1st February. We all share a sense of disappointment that the JR process did not secure a delay of the contract award on the grounds of safety issues.
During the meeting Edward Cooper from Slater and Gordon gave an overview of the process to date including the legal advice given which resulted in the decision by the Napo Officers to discontinue the JR process on 8th December.
For the avoidance of all doubt, decisions about the process were taken at each stage by the whole of the elected officers group plus the General Secretary by a secret ballot, with unanimous agreement on the basis of the legal advice. As you will be aware, some of the evidence disclosed to Napo from the MoJ was subject to a strict confidentiality order in addition to the usual restrictions placed on the use of evidence in public law proceedings. This order was made by the high court and any breach could lead to prosecution of individuals and/or Napo for contempt of Court. In some circumstances this could result in imprisonment and, for elected officers, loss of employment. All of the Officers were part of the decision making process, and were fully appraised of the legal advice at each stage.
The eventual decision to discontinue our legal challenge was not financially driven, you will already know that we received some financial assistance from sister unions. This amounted to £23,000 in total and was aimed at assisting with the cost of lodging the Judicial Review application. Although there was no agreement for any further contributions from these or any other source, Napo was in a position to bear any costs associated with proceeding without jeopardising the future of our Union.
As advised previously, Napo attended a costs hearing on 12th December during which two orders for costs were made; disclosure costs are to be met by the MoJ and other costs to be met by Napo. The Officer group has subsequently decided to instruct Slater and Gordon to take this ruling to the Court of Appeal. Unfortunately the deliberately misleading missive from NOMs and MoJ earlier in the week omitted to include the fact that this option was available to us.
Communications on December 8th
It was acknowledged by the Napo Officers that the initial and necessarily quick communication from Napo last week had caused some confusion and frustration among many members and was open to misinterpretation. The Officers have apologised for this and pointed out that it was certainly not their intention. The aim was to get information to members as quickly as possible before the MoJ did; and, on legal instruction, Napo were limited in terms of what they could say. With hindsight the Officers recognised yesterday that this limited information caused a level of anxiety which they would have wanted to avoid. The meeting acknowledged that the subsequent communications from Napo around JR and a number of other important issues have included a great deal of additional information
Achievements during the JR campaign
Despite the disappointment about the eventual outcome of JR and the fact that Chris Grayling yesterday signed off the award of CRC contracts, we were still able to reflect at the Chairs meeting on our achievements to date in this leg of our ongoing campaign.
-We have been successful in securing disclosure of a number of key documents, including test gates 4 and 5 as well as other key information about staffing and sickness levels
- We were able to collate a substantial amount of evidence due to the fantastic response from members when requested which kept our challenge alive for as long as possible
- We are in no doubt that this evidence and our ongoing challenge has forced the MoJ to assess and act on the areas of concern we highlighted.
The next steps
It was agreed that moving forward we must focus on how best the Officers and Officials can work with Branches to promote and protect members interests in both the CRCs and the NPS. It was clarified at the meeting that any contractual terms and conditions can only be changed by agreement with the National Negotiating Council (NNC). Non-contractual terms and conditions will continue to be negotiated locally between CRCs and trade unions and nationally between the NPS and trade unions. It is worth remembering that irrespective of who the future CRC owners may be, the agreement on future negotiating structures was reached with all the probation unions at Ministerial level following the intervention by ACAS and that we Napo intends to defend this.
Everyone was aware that there are many challenges facing members currently. In order to hold the MoJ to account it is vital that we continue to collate evidence of systemic failures resulting in increased risk to staff, clients, and the public. These should be forwarded to email@example.com. A copy of our campaign strategy will be forwarded to Branch Chairs shortly.
Contact with CRC providers
The General Secretary has already written to the CRC owners to appraise them of our concerns and has offered to meet with them to discuss the issues that continue to concern us. This correspondence has been posted on the Napo website: https://www.napo.org.uk/news/napo-has-written-bidders-comprehensive-briefing. We understand that there has already been some positive responses and some initial meetings have been scheduled for early in the New Year. Chivalry Road will help to facilitate meetings between our local activists and the CRC owners in the New Year. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary campaign continues and we were told that briefings will be regularly prepared for politicians which will feature all of our concerns so that relevant questions can be asked in the House.
Sticking with Napo
The meeting yesterday ended on a positive note and reaffirmed the need for members to pull together during these difficult times and to stick with Napo. We need unity in the continuing fight against against unmanageable workloads and the expected further erosion of our pay, terms and conditions whether we are in a CRC or the NPS. It’s even more reason to stay with NAPO, the union that has been prepared to fight and lead from the front throughout the TR campaign. We thank you for your continued support.
Pat Waterman: Branch Chair