All seem quite reasonable questions. Sometimes it helps to make decisions with details to hand. On the reformatting of the AGM, it's asserted there will be savings. What will these savings be, as presumably someone has done the sums? The costs of the former GS and the judicial review, again, should be published. The Napo leadership repeatedly refers to this 'member-led' union, but aren't you 'leading' in ignorance if you are unenlightened by information that the leadership know but the membership don't know.
Work-related stress has been mentioned in this blog many times, but according to the May edition of Napo News, only nine branches submitted returns to a national survey. I think this low response rate is saying less about the prevalence of stress, but possibly much about the ability of branches to cope with demands and diminishing resources.
Frankly, Napo has been fucked for money for years. The large influx of members in the late seventies has been retiring and they haven't been able to recruit enough people to replace them. They could've dug themselves out a bit by selling Chivalry Road a couple of years ago but refused to countenance siting HQ away from London to save money.
The fundamental problem however is the political naivete of the membership and the elected leaders. I've seen it at NEC over the Probation Institute. Some of us argued that it was a front to provide false credibility to TR. The prevalent view however was that Napo should get involved so it could be influenced. There was never any chance of that as the "even handed" academics were always going to run it and fail miserably to support a politicized agenda.
The elected leadership have consistently been weak and too willing to prioritise the professional association priorities over being a trade union. The membership are also responsible. Even in the face of TR the majority were apathetic and unwilling to act. Look at the ballot turnout and solidity of the last strike. It was pathetic. JR was a sideshow at best.
The "secret" legal advice from the beginning was that it was a cripplingly expensive bet with a poor chance of success. Therein lies another problem. Yvonne Patterson commented somewhere the other day that they couldn't say anything at the moment about what they're doing to oppose the pay offer. They couldn't say anything about Ledger's pay off. They couldn't say anything about plans for JR. Everything appears cloak and dagger and no one is held to account.
NEC and the elected leadership are weak and ineffectual. IL has a serious image problem and peddles the "punching above our weight" line when it's clearly nonsense. The membership with a few notable exceptions are unwilling to take part and Napo is skint and unwilling to take the tough decisions it needs to take in order to save itself. I left a year ago after ten years of activism and the sky hasn't fallen down. If you're in NPS join the PCS. They have a strong record of politicized activism and will fight the Tory attacks on public sector trade unionism with vigour. If you're in CRC then I fear that you're fucked whatever representation you choose.
Whatever happens you've seen what the coalition did with supposed liberal brakes on. Now see what an unashamedly right wing government will do to the remainder of the public sector. You can't afford professionally, financially or morally to stand by and watch but, as usual, the silent majority will do so lending credibility to Cameron and Gove. Then they'll snipe from the sidelines about how their union(s) let them down when they did little or nothing. Rant over now before I get started on UNISON and the Trust chiefs and chairs. Duplicitous arseholes the lot of them. Good luck.
Your arguments resonate all too well. On the pay claim, they are doing something, but cannot say what it is... So many times we have tolerated Napo working behind the scenes on behalf of members, promising to get back on this or that topic – but never doing so. The cloak of secrecy is a means to avoid accountability and avoid action. There is a patronising arrogance to some of Napo's 'positioning' on issues which often reeks of insincerity. It's Animal Farm writ large. Always it's a self-inflated elite that thinks it knows better. Of course, the majority of union members have shown themselves to have less fervent than Orwell's farmyard animals and this makes it so much easier for the leadership of Napo to live out their illusions undisturbed.
Unison is striking on the 11th June and IL tells us that Napo will be reviewing its position on the 19th June. As a West End farce this would be funny, but as an example of two unions working together, it's tragic stuff. From the grassroots perspective this is ridiculous and once again we will see members of one union crossing the picket lines of another union. These situations don't only damage workplace efforts to build solidarity, they increase cynicism towards trade unionism, because what is being witnessed is trade unionism as circus. And those in the upper echelons of Napo and Unison know this. And, like Greek Gods, they are playing with their members!
I agree it's a mess and the truth is hidden by Napo. The co chairs are just the new complicit propping up a failed and losing GS.
If we have no chance in the future under Tories we have even less under Ian Lawrence. His image is not the bulk of his problem but lack of intellect for the role and what probation was and should have been. For him it is time to leave with dignity or will he force a membership revolt? If CRC members are to be lost the income will destroy both sides of Napo NPS CRC we had better insist on accountability but the NEC are pathetic as a group. They have too many excusers in the forum and they act like members of a certain Party mid 40s the moment capable people speak out.
The problem with unions today, as with charities, is that those at the top take up their position from a basis of what they can get rather then what they can achieve for the good of the whole. Charity EXECs are very well paid, whilst those that do the real work shaking the tins do so on a voluntary basis. Union EXECs are also very well paid whilst the local reps do the slogging.
The social ethics and sentiments that make people want to do what they do further down the food chain is no longer shared by those at the top table. For them it's business and making sure they keep their place so they can achieve their lucrative rewards. How many of the Napo EXEC would be there if the financial rewards were not so great? The same question can be asked of other unions and charities too. Driven by a passionate belief in the cause? Or driven by the wage packet?
In some ways I think this next 5 years of Tory rule may change those attitudes for the better. People will have to become more passionate about the 'cause' because the Tories are going to show all just how bad things can get if you don't stand up and be counted for your beliefs.
Any of us could take a wild guess at answering most of these questions and would probably be spot on. I know there are one or two Napo exec and confidants that post here 'anonymously' on occasion. Not good enough though. Time for Napo to come clean, acknowledge this blog, answer the difficult questions and be honest with the membership.
With reference to the 'cost' of JR, I assume the question is asked with pounds spent in mind? However, more fundamental, is the real 'cost' of JR not to be found in the agreements and promises made between Napo and Grayling? At the time the plug was pulled on JR, court restrictions did not allow for the publication of the negotiations reached and promises made by Grayling to be published. We are still in the dark about these. When can we know what promises were extracted from Grayling that were acceptable enough to withdraw from JR?
These promises, obtained by Napo, were achieved not at the bequest of the membership, nor do the membership to date have any knowledge of the content of those promises. Surely now we should have the right to know?
Detailing the monetary cost of JR may be very difficult for Napo. If I recall correctly, there was at the time some contradiction between union and MoJ regarding who paid what. Napo claimed they only had to pay a partial amount and the MoJ press release claimed Napo had to pay the full cost. It would be embarrassing now for Napo to have to admit that in fact they were liable for the whole lot - not only because they've previously claimed otherwise, but to my mind would also raise serious questions about the validity of the promises they claimed to have extracted from Grayling.
Ian Lawrence is the leader of Napo. We elected him so we stick by him. He has a proven track record and works tirelessly for members. Some things are confidential. Some things he cannot talk about. Some things Napo can't talk about despite Napo wanting too. Lay off Napo. We need Napo. I think we get value for money from Napo. Napo is cheaper than PSS and Unison.
No Ian Lawrence is an elected General Secretary of Napo. He is certainly well short of leadership skills! What you should understand is that if the membership demand answers they are entitled. The so called leadership is to be held to account through the NEC. They need to realise their growing unpopularity within Napo membership for being so weak.
Everything has been lost. Nothing much left defend let alone win. We are divided to be conquered and now sadly divided we are ruled. Yet still to come we are now waiting for the final loss of all terms and conditions. Ian Lawrence will probably make them a cup of tea as they tear up the national terms or whats left of them.
Well done! It's not all his fault though, Napo elected him through apathy. Stop defending the indefensible lets work to a fresh start. Oust the General Secretary if we have to but lets have the debate by having answers! Truthful ones please!
If Napo don't come clean and speak out, answer the questions, it's dead and buried. I will not sign a DD mandate for fees because I don't feel represented, I don't feel members are being given answers and quite frankly I am tired of the same cloak and dagger politics we critise the government for. As a taxpayer I expect government and every minister and MP to be accountable, as a Napo member I expect the same from Napo HQ exec and NEC. Don't bore me with media type spin, tell the bloody truth or say goodbye to our union.
"Some things Napo can't talk about despite wanting to" - well lets start with the finances. I have sat through many a Conference listening to the floor get exasperated with the few Delegates who repeatedly (and legitimately) ask for confirmation of one financial point or another, only to be constantly fobbed off and treated as if they are a) a nuisance and/or b) a bit thick because they are not willing to leave it all to the Treasurer who will tell us what he thinks we ought to hear rather than provide full and comprehensive financial detail as requested.
If the detail was provided up front to all - not 'promised' to the enquirer by email later (as has happened on occasion) less Conference time would be wasted for a start. We are fully entitled to question Napo for how our subs are spent. I for one am waiting to see if the full cost of JR is shown (as it should be) in the annual accounts. I can see nothing 'secret' about this info. We voted for JR, we should know how much it cost us financially.
PS Napo is definitely not cheaper than Unison for a PO!
"Some things Napo cant talk about despite wanting to" ??? They don't actually tell the membership anything at all. They decide what's to be done, why it's to be done, and how it's to be done. They even decide what outcomes are acceptable for the people they're meant to be representing without any form of consultation with it's membership so no-one can disagree with what they're doing or how they're doing it.
And to add insult to injury, they tell everyone they can't disclose what they're doing or how they're doing it! What other organisation or business would be afforded that level of freedom with it's members or customers? This is good old Blighty - not North Korea, and Napo are dealing with probation matters not matters of national security! For sure you don't want your enemies to know what your doing, and sometimes the law demands you watch what you say, but tell us bloody something, sometime.
Well what can we expect? I read here that the treasurer Mr Stockeld, despite being smart enough to avoid any responsibility, has landed a place in the PI. Does this mean he is getting time off and rinsing Napo funding to attend PI meetings no doubt? I wonder how much the PI has cost members and then ask for that money back to help properly fund a member led AGM? As pointed out, it will be a secret or something and well an email. Of course the questions are raised by members for the benefit of AGM. No private correspondence Treasurer, just tell us how you have blown the accounts.
Yes, IL is the leader of Napo. He was elected on a turnout of 19.6%. Not the strongest of mandates but he can't be blamed for member apathy. But all this stuff about Napo having to operate under the radar and observe omerta on various subjects is a perverse defence of the status quo. Napo behaves sometimes like any group with vested interests – they shy away from accountability. It is a great shame that freedom of information does not extend to trade unions.
On the AGM format there is haste to agree a new format. On the Unison strike, Napo will discuss it after it has happened. There is nothing – either confidential or that threatens national security – that stops Napo from setting out its views on the Unison strike. Napo members will have to cross Unison picket lines to go to work, just as Unison previously crossed Napo pickets. Chaos!
Nonsense if questioned properly the General Secretary has to reply and is accountable to the NEC. They constantly fail to form the right questions. In relation to leadership I know that we elect Chairs who are questionable in terms of skills for the role but they are the elected lay officials who are supposed to lead on strategy and member interest. The tail has been wagging the Napo dog for many years because the Chairs do not understand the role. The last two GS have had ridiculous freedom and the membership rely on the elected officers to sort things out. The trouble is they do not have the either the ability or the confidence to deal with a Bull.
I'd say there is more chance of Sepp Blatter being held to account.
After serving as a branch rep for years and holding various branch roles, I did some regional work and then thought I had something to contribute on a national committee. Duly 'elected' I travelled to London (giving myself a fourteen hour day) and frankly struggled to come to terms with it all.
I found an established group of people used to working together, fair enough, but the down side was the shock of feeling I was there to make up the numbers. Yes, there are branches of differing sizes, but really each committee members should have value. I thought it was morally dishonest to attend and not represent members views or contribute.
There was often the 'theatre' of national officers and officials sweeping in late because they had been dealing with 'important stuff' they could not share yet, but keeping us waiting when we had 3/4/5 hour journeys to get there. Then being late, we had to rush through the agenda restricting discussion and in my view conflicting with basic principles of democracy.
I found it interesting to see that several newbies eventually withdrew, all had something different to contribute and were not insiders. There was a really interesting power dynamic and I found it fascinating to observe just who was worthy of time from the top table lot. I decided such shenanigans were not worthy of my time and the effort I put in to read the papers in advance and consult with my branch. Someone posted earlier about Animal Farm, they were absolutely right!
Maybe this is why people I trusted, respected and voted for didn't live up to expectations. Well done for speaking out publicly whoever you are. Personally I don't feel the AGM proposed changes are to do with cost, but an opportunity to restrict the membership networking that prior to the last AGM caused serious concerns for the HQ exec.
You are probably right. I recall prior to the suspensions of 3 reps on the NEC we could email all the other NEC reps on the email, as a matter of course. I am not an NEC rep but have had conversations that demonstrate after the suspensions fiasco the email between NEC members became restricted by Napo and then became a thing of the past. It was claimed to be a data protection issue but we all know this is nonsense. Anyway, it is still the same Napo leadership who had posters on the Napo forum censored and removed. The removal makes the forum and the management of it untrustworthy. That is why this site provides anon for comment and protection. The ordinary get a voice.
I think we should do the same with the General Secretary. Censure at AGM and a vote of confidence. I expect he will lose after the abysmal record.