Thanks to the reader for sending me the following:-
Napo Members report from Chair Mixed messages and what directions?
This is the first time in writing as the Chair of the Napo South Sou’ Western branch. The combined areas have just celebrated its first AGM being, just over a year old. Although it did not feel like a celebration it has been a dramatic time for all of us. The speed of this year has gone by like no other and after so many changes. This contrasts with what we know about a week in Politics is a long time. Yet anything might still happen given the up and way this has all been done.
The NPS have moved forward in their new direction as an organisation. Embracing their revised public service identity. It has narrowed their responsibilities for the most serious and dangerous while we know our colleagues there will maintain a cohesion to colleagues in the CRC and wider staff teams. In the change the CRCs now have everything. Within Napo locally, Jill Narin PO NPS has been elected as the Branch Vice Chair and Jill will continue her links and support to the branch whilst ensuring a napo official attendance is maintained in the newly formed and regionalised NPS Joint Consultative Committee.
The reorganisation continues across all the union and the national framework. Many of you will know the Union centrally is currently engaging members in a survey. This is to look at ways to reorganise how NAPO has to change in light of the geographic and regional employers. The consequences of having to manage day to day workings with different employers. What the proposals will look like is fairly predictable but most likely we will have a separate union process to meet the changing needs of members. We wait and see.
The CRC JNCC reps have established the branch within the new national model recognition agreement. I do not think it is as strong a constitution as the previous arrangements but it seems at this time it is the best national NAPO could broker. I have written to the General Secretary on some of the issues and problems it generates for effective negotiation. However, Napo locally remain recognised and continue to protect all the nationally agreed terms and conditions that Members currently have.
My Thanks go to Helen Coley Denice James Napo and Glo Curtis of Unison. Also Paul Sabulis and the Executive team who have kept things moving throughout the difficulties of the year. While on Napo activists, we have two of our long serving branch officials running as candidates for the National Vice Chair elections. Their experience and accumulated knowledge will place them well for election and we wish Barry Adams and Mona Lim our best. This can be better though if you ensure to vote for them both. Ensuring that in the centre we have some voice and reasoning that will help protect all our regions interests and that of our national colleagues. Election papers will be out soon please make sure you encourage everyone to vote.
You will all be aware of what feels like daily changes to aspects of your work. I cannot say how much this is reflected in the NPS other than what is reported in corridor discussion. We have a lot In common though as the target culture language is taking hold. There are numerous new instructions and recording process with N-delius ever hungry for more data entries. This will no doubt continue for a good while, but keep in mind nothing is set solid just yet and arrangements might change. Financial depended issues will drive anything.
We are aware of the bigger changes with the news of the recently appointed Area \Divisional Chief executive John Wiseman. He takes his new role in what has now become a massive geographic area. John will be managing Bristol Somerset Gloucester Wiltshire Dorset Devon and Cornwall CRCs. John is no stranger to traversing geography and he will not consider distances as an obstacle. The combined areas probably won’t cause him many difficulties, however multiple sets of staff may have to work in ways which will consider what our geographic neighbours are doing. John will have his work cut out on that. Also the areas will need to combine Union interests. John was quick to look at ways we need to think about efficiencies for the unions as they dovetail into the separate areas he controls. Many of you know John was formally the Chief of Dorset so he is returning effectively. John has a long history and strong career in the Probation services and there can be no doubt he remains just as ambitious and determined to make things work in his expanding role. Of course, it is to be expected and having had opportunity to meet with John for a short time, he appeared committed to a positive future. He was balanced and open to questions.
John made the usual reasonable and expected political protected answers. His awareness of critical issues which are of concern to the Unions gave me an indication he is astute to the wider implications of all the headline issues. I thought there was a small flicker of empathy for the position while nothing that was said could reflect more than a nuance of opinions. John balanced his views on what was before us now, and the changing political potentials. He did not make any assurances to the needs of the membership and workforce. However, the relationship between professional aspects of the work was touched upon. This will be at the centre of future arrangements. Nevertheless there were no cornering or direct pledges and our future practices may well have a meritocracy base for success. John Takes over formally in September, although, he looked settled and comfortable in Exeter already. He is keen to understand the regional strength of the unions and the efficiencies that might be had for both management time and Napo regional structures. Nothing can be advanced just yet and we wait and see the outcome of the National survey decisions. It was clear a wider dialogue within the territories branches will come in time. A tandem task structure from the employers and management and potentially regional delivery model may well happen. All this is ongoing speculation.
From ongoing issues to those or at least someone in particular who has decided their time for continuity is over. With our new (Chief) or Chief Executive John Wiseman coming in September, I want to ensure we reflect a little on those who have decided a new chapter in their life has come. In writing this section of the report I am genuinely saddened and feel some heartfelt warmth for a man who has dedicated his life to the tasks of caring and looking after people. For those who have less in the lottery of society. Our outgoing Chief Rob Menary, has been ACO, SPO, PO, and so on. His experience and memories go as far back as modern probation took hold. He has the broadest range of experience and has been involved in all the changes over the years in one way or the other. In all that time, whether practitioner or management I know from my experience of Rob he has always wanted to deliver better outcomes for the people we work with. In our cross union relationship I have to be clear we have crossed many times. We have argued at some points unable to maintain a totally objective positions, and test both of our patience come close to the limits. We have shared the contrast of a long night over strike action talks. Then, running into the small hours of the morning seeking resolution. A time when employers wanted to ensure our reputation of good running public services were free of militant strike action. Preventing stoppages in provision was important to avoid. However strong our disagreements have been, Rob has always seen these quickly forgotten. We have been able to move onwards without recrimination. This says a lot to me and members of the Unions negotiating teams working with Rob through difficult issues we have developed a respect which has grown over the years.
In the role of Chair of the branch, the responsibilities of recording and reporting are part of the job. Yet writing the union record for Rob’s departure is something I am glad to be doing. Having worked under and alongside Rob, I have many anecdotal stories. I hope to share these one day but not all can be done here. Many a comedy moment, 1 example, when Rob was an ACO new into the merged Devon and Cornwall. In a briefing we sat in the back row of chairs. Slowly but surely as the hours went on we both slid back our chairs trying to snatch a glimpse each other’s notes. The only thing stopping us eventually, was the 4 yards we had moved as we ended up against the wall.
This, sort of marks us really as we have spent considerable time against the wall. We are sadly a long way from those days their like will probably never return. It was a good time when we were afforded the wider boundaries and mix of interaction.
It is a consequence of leadership that decisions have to be made whether we like them or not, as a Union. Leadership is often isolating and despite many of the negatives Rob has never avoided problems always engaging. He has tried to serve his time well. I think he has achieved just that and exceeded in many areas. Often managing difficult issues into settlements if never full agreement. In the vein of lone decisions he has had many judgement calls. I know from my experience of representing members as a group or individuals he has made some difficult choices. Some of these have been emotionally heartbreaking for those involved. At times requiring the sensitivity and genuine sense to do things right for people. Robs activity here has been welcomed. These silent matters in the lives of people I know have been incredibly tough, yet sound and respectful judgements demonstrate his care and foresight for the well being of others. For some of those I thank him.
I do take this opportunity on behalf of the Union to Thank Rob publicly and on the record. The brief period, overseeing Dorset through the harmonisation process. Previous merger from Cornwall leading D+C. Working with the JNCC, and all struggles and support of argument. For some of the wins and disappointments in representing our members. Rob has many strings to his bow and will no doubt he will have much to do. I suspect he will take long voyages on his Kayak (I call his Yacht) He may well spend some time in his Spanish Villa (he calls a 1 bedroom flat.) Recently a grandfather with a new direction for the future or just relaxing as part of the successful family Rob comes from. Whatever he does he will no doubt do it well. Be well and with the warmest regards from us. I wish all best to you Rob whatever you choose to do and say a final thanks from NAPO.
Other recent leavers have been the Board but not yet mentioned. An interesting point we must credit the outgoing group for last year. In conjunction with senior management we finally managed to agree under the small window of opportunity the harmonisation agenda. We ratified full agreement of our current redundancy policy. The harmonisation process required a no detriment and upwards shift to all merging policies. This work continues to protect staff in many ways. The arrangement helped us move a long fought battle managed over 3 years with myself as lead negotiator. Many letters ignored and rejected from both HR and some senior management. There were times the board agreed with us but the momentum was stalled by the management. Citing hurdle after hurdle policy and beliefs over facts and in date requirements. Despite this, finally the board having had enough of the constant agenda item and ongoing lobbying a principled argument took hold. Along with a few other boards also adopting revised policies under the staff transfer arrangements. The opportunity to formally agree the position on our claim, although, we were never going to achieve our request right for 104 weeks under the LGPS scheme our compromise was to adopted the national EVR rates. This critical important agreement is something we feel the board need public recognition and our gratitude for because as they left they gave membership and staff a helping and decent hand. Not something for us to consider right now but ownership of that agreement is important for us all to remember. For that we thank the outgoing board members.
Finally, most members will not be oblivious to the issues and concerns that are being raised with me about our friends and colleagues in the north. Compulsory threats of dismissal in large numbers is an incredible response from the private owners of the contracts. Planned terminations on mass across all grades is an alarming prospect and send us a clear warning of the potential crisis we could all face. The worst situation for many ever in my 32+ years service. We are rightly concerned for them. Your respective work and those colleagues caught up with the reality that they are not required in the new employers operational model. It will be the worst outcomes set against a cost cutting arrangement by which the dismissals on offer seek to fleece colleagues of their critical redundancy rates. We are marginally better off in the form of our contract holder but we are not complacent. None of the SSW branch executive is comfortable with the growing fears and anxieties. I do not want to see any of our membership experience what is happening in other areas. On that basis we must be alert and stringent in all that we do. Ensure we have the fullest membership signed up to NAPO. Recruit where possible. Strong membership empowers us to negotiate matters on both a local and regional membership basis. We call to you our members to encourage your attendance at all branch meetings across the geography. Ensure you make branch minimum quoracy. Make sure all employment terms and issues are duly reported to the branch executive members or directly to me as Chair. Where colleagues are not members please again encourage them to join the branch NOW! The stronger the branch is the better prospects we have of achieving our stated aims, we have a good mandate on which to act but we can make it stronger. We will keep you posted as things develop and monitor the wider national picture.
The AGM is in October and I look forward to seeing as many of our members there as we can so put the dates in your diary.
Dino Peros Napo Chair SSW Jncc Rep.