Friday, 24 April 2015

Latest From Napo 59

The latest blog by Ian Lawrence, Napo General Secretary:-

This farce looks set to run

Our talks with Sodexo on Monday following their announcement of 600 intended job losses and their disingenuous stance on EVR were not exactly convivial, but we were at least able to reach agreement on the need for them to go back to their Executive and think again. We were subsequently expecting another joint statement to indicate that the contractor had agreed to pause their controversial redundancy programme, but this could not be cleared by their high command in time for further discussion, and as I indicated in my last posting this was announced by CRC Chiefs the following day. On the back of Sodexo’s woeful handling of communications, we now have two registered disputes to the NNC Joint Secretaries from South Yorkshire and Northumberland which we will seek to progress at the earliest opportunity.

Further to our meeting with the company, we have today sent another letter to the Company urging them to halt the TUPE exercise that they have embarked upon to relocate staff into their shared services division in Salford. As far as we are concerned this exercise cannot be seen in isolation from the substantive issue about the options that ought to be available to staff if voluntary redundancy becomes an option. Click here for BR 37/2015 with attachment MS letter

Given the support of no less Michael Spurr, we now expect Sodexo to seriously reflect on their plans in the knowledge that they have a moral responsibility to treat people equally. Moreover, we maintain our principled opposition to the cuts and we are especially interested to understand how they seriously believe that they can do a better job delivering management and rehabilitation services with low and medium risk clients than the pre-TR probation service, minus 600 staff. Even more worrying is that the unions were told that the cuts are planned to be implemented before the biometric reporting kiosks are in place sometime into 2016.

That revelation made a few jaws drop at yesterday’s highly charged ’Vote for Justice' rally in Central Hall, where I was grateful to be invited to join an illustrious list of speakers as we debated Graylings shambolic stewardship of the Ministry of Justice and mapped out the sorts of things that we would want to see from a new government.

Two things were universally agreed by all present: that the outsourcing of Probation and the assault on legal aid represent the most cynical and damaging assault on the criminal Justice system in all of its history. The second, is that the performance of the outgoing Secretary of State for Justice has been the most calamitous in the history of the UK.

Supreme irony

I doubt if the architects of TR and those who shoved it through to meet the election timetable will have factored in the possibility of an unholy row between seller and purchaser over the way in which they intend to treat with their staff.

In our detailed report in the week about the action we have taken in response to Sodexo’s proposed job cuts and redundancies (see BR 35/2015) the unions made it plain that we believe that there is something seriously amiss about what Sodexo said in their contract bid and what they actually meant. For example: if they did reveal that they intended to shed 600 staff so soon after the ink had dried, did they actually tell anyone that they never intended to pay EVR? Which leads to at least one other question: did anyone think to ask them?

But for now the focus is on the interpretation of the National Staff Transfer protections that we agreed with Jeremy Wright in late 2014, and the issue of entitlement to EVR if redundancies are absolutely necessary during the lifetime of the CRC contracts. There were a few wry smiles at the lawyers rally when I mentioned the prospect of a legal wrangle between the parties of a type not seen since Dickens (albeit fictional) account of Jarndyce v Jarndyce (Ref: Bleak House).

I gather at least one CRC chief intends to go running to Queens Counsel to see how many brownie points they can score with their new bosses over this issue. I reckon they ought to save the taxpayer some money and await the next instalment in this Kafkaesque farce that someone will probably think about selling tickets to.

Napo - the voice of its members in Probation and Family Courts.

Enjoy the weekend.


  1. Alongside all of this, what is being said about the unreasonable and unmanageable demands being placed on staff. Increasing duplication and bureaucracy. Managers and admin organising everything to meet their own needs, changes and more change to right to errors in the first change. The list of error and incompetence is almost endless. IT upgrades and shutdowns with hours notice, none of it actually improving anything, much of it detrimental. Stress and exhaustion rife.Meanwhile the Prison service is storming on , accorded priority, promised increased income, people with a dangerously limited knowledge of what they are doing and having little if any understanding why they are doing it. Not that Prison didn't need one heck of a shake up. Who know perhaps they will get so good at sorting people out whilst they are nice and cozily locked away, that they won't need anyone to see people through 3, 4, 5, 6 and longer years of licence.

  2. For what it's worth, was in Question Time audience last night, tried to challenge Hague's comments about Public Service jobs but over ruled, had argued with him in previous debate about CJS b4programme was recorded so not surprised didn't get 2nd chance. Have been invited to give Radio 4 interview next week and will be raising the profile of private enterprise making announcement of 100s of job loses, replacing people who have given a lifetime's work in many cases with machines, people who now face unemployment in their 50s

  3. IL was democratically elected to represent the people but the people (some) turn on him at every opportunity.#fickle

    1. Not everyone who voted in the GS election voted for IL, and just because he is in post does not mean we should uncritically accept how he is functioning in role. Just as we hold politicians to account, (also democratically elected) so we are within our rights as NAPO members to hold IL to account. It is not a question of being 'fickle'.

    2. I agree with Deb above and the election percentage turn out was appalling. Hardly a majority of members for proper mandate. What do you expect us all to do stand and applaud what is happening to us ? This is being done of the back of Mr Lawrences agreement. No sign of never retreat nor surrender. I think anon 7:21 encourages criticism by the few lines this in itself is taunting.
      There has been huge unprecedented disturbance with a chair resigning citing differences and still we have no real understanding of why. Not all of us are so accepting .

  4. Interesting article in the Daily Mirror about Sodexo and probation: