Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Working Links in the Spotlight 2

Again, many thanks to the colleague for forwarding the following which, although a long read, fills in some gaps as well as amply demonstrating some considerable effort being expended in making sure Working Links don't have an easy ride in the West Country.     

Branch report redundancies update 4

Including not a very Christmas message from Branch Chair & JNCC reps.

Date 22/12/15.
Dear Union members NAPO and Unison,

NPS CRC (the majority of this report is for the CRC)

Here is the situation so far, since reporting to members on the 1/12/15, we have also attached the letter of the 30th of November to Mr Wiseman. Both found their way onto popular blog media sites On Probation and Facebook! We realise that once sent, these reports cross the country and into the public domain as we all look for help and support.

Shortly, we will be looking to gather wider public opinion through direct discussions with newspapers, TV and radio to expose the local cuts that will generate deficiencies in all areas of public protection. It is our intention, with you, to disclose the deepening implications and risk to local communities. Already there are a number of predicted and emerging T.R. related SFOs. This trend is certain to continue, possibly more sharply as the incredible, unfair and appalling proposals from Working Links continue unchecked. Reducing staff will only reduce critical public safety.

Despite the calming language we have been hearing and reading, it is a simple truth that this employer, by way of its intentions to centralise services into hubs, will radically cut appropriate and proper offender management in the DDCCRC area. It will draw funds from our budgets and redirect the cash equivalent in resources to its own Working Links head office in Middlesbrough. Despite the denial of this from Mr. Wiseman, terming this as shared services. You decide.

NAPOs experience of the way Working Links has managed most aspects of engagement in consultation have, in our opinion, been poor. Ignoring many of the flaws in the way we are treated and engaged with, the biggest and clearest failure has to be the submitted HR1 form to the Business Innovation and Skills Department. It is attached to this report for your information. We are interested to hear your views on this incredible document. For the moment we have to look to ourselves locally, and we ask all members to inform Union Reps of any matters that contribute to the growing catalogue of risk escalation and failures of services, arising from the implications of the new working model. We encourage you to decide to what extent you are prepared to act to maintain appropriate resistance to what has effectively become the biggest threat to your employment, Working Links the contract bid holder. If you believe you will survive the current proposed cuts, it is certain a reduction in pay from altered jobs will follow. Having said that, we will be continuing to aggressively challenge the proposals by Working Links and to ensure all the appropriate risk assessments have been conducted and, where we discover any irregularity, these will be challenged.

New job role descriptions and variations to different contracts will certainly follow. It is unlikely Working Links will be looking to pay staff at the current appropriate rates for the job. What remains clear to Napo and for you as members, is that we must withdraw all goodwill immediately. This is not industrial action, but maintaining your working expectations is all you should do. Covering extra duties, additional support tasks and filling in wherever asked should be refused. Managers should also think carefully about what they ask staff to do under the current situation, where there are many gaps requiring staff support these should be fed back up the line and not be redistributed.

We also saw the HR Director from BGSW who attend our JNCC on 16/12/15, and as far as we are aware they do not work for the DDCCRC. We have our own HR official, yet they included an external employee, telling us what is to happen to your jobs!

We learned in discussions with management, despite resistance to the obvious conclusions, they remained committed to Job Evaluation as the outcome of wage rates in the future. Also they would obviously engage consultations to vary roles that survive. This was not discussed in much greater detail at this stage.

We have also had sight of supporting evidence of this position from Wales Cymru copied to us on 15/12/15. We sense the management are trying to play down the implications of the changes. Further confusions reign in the release of information. Denice James JNCC Napo rep, exposed and challenged the content of documents not actually reflecting what was exchanged in the DDCCRC meeting. What is more obvious and likely, is a sense of one set of minutes fits all JNCCs across the three CRC’s and that is where we think the confusions arise. We have asked for separate and timely minutes to all meetings now and prior to any further meetings planned.

Existing Administrative FTE


Proposed Administrative FT

Hub Admin
Local Admin
Difference FTE


On the 16th of December we asked for the local breakdown of the regional full time equivalents to be dismissed and how these translated into the DDC area. There was some reluctance to answer, despite the fact it must have been known, we have since discovered that the above figures had already been released.

These wider regional collective figures were released on 15/12/15 by Mr Hindson in the combined CRCs meeting. The headline cuts are described as worst case scenario affecting the regional staff complement, keeping in mind cuts may not be equitably distributed as can be seen by the BGSW proposal for 34+.

Management want to reduce the current staff compliment of 1288 FTE, down to 704 FTE staff. This means a staggering 584 staff are to lose their jobs across the three CRC’s. You can see these cuts are disproportionate to each CRC. Please note the current position is to seek all voluntary applicants for redundancy but given the figures Napo and the management are clear, compulsory cuts are almost certain if they really want to achieve this staff reduction agenda. The reduction figures for administrative roles were NOT mentioned in the DDC JNCC on the 16th December, although we will be making the point that losing these valued staff with their experience will make it incredibly difficult to get their work covered. Even if that work is abandoned, the implications for changes to other staff roles should be obvious.

Napo’s letter to Mr Wiseman.

Regarding Napo’s branch letter to Mr Wiseman dated the 30th November ‘15. There was a small acknowledgement in an e -mail from Mr Wiseman having made the just ‘noted’ comment. However, we have pushed on with the serious issues and we have been promised answers to our questions from the lawyers. Who’s lawyers, CRC or Working Links? We wait to see. Napo would prefer to see these legal costs diverted into savings for jobs along with the £15.00 per person Christmas contribution that is continuing, rather awkwardly, to be available for substantive staff only. It is another morale sapping gross error of judgement by the Working Links senior management. We have made this point to them, our comments also being dismissed as ‘noted’. When our NAPO branch receives the promised written response we will publish and report on it.

What we are wanting before any further cuts are offered is the impact and equality assessments with the Health and Safety assurances. Assessments and risk analysis that should have been completed ahead of the proposals, having been developed this far. How genuine these reports will be is something that will face particular scrutiny. It was announced at the regional meeting on the 15th December that the CRCs for Working Links is linked with the company known as Innovation Wessex. This group will be undertaking all the checks and recording of the need to deliver assessments. Mr Hindson, Working Links director and a director on the DDCRC made it clear that independent reports will be impartial. Napo made the point that Innovation Wessex are commissioned by Working Links and DDCCRC and is paid by them. This group are in the main seconded or early voluntary redundant DDCRC staff, yet some of them have a new post with salary having just exited DDCCRC? Returning staff perhaps, could have been seconded to save money where their skills are required. Similar financial comfort for our members is not something we could hope for. There are further questions yet to be directed about the Innovation Wessex arrangements and what they cost? Possibly this structure could be axed instead of our jobs, making savings for all frontline staff! The input of Innovation Wessex does not stop there, we asked Management who would be conducting the impact assessments for the safety of the changes to probation services they were to make? They offered Innovation Wessex as the organisation that would certify and report the assessments, claiming their independence and objectivity. Management could not deny, however, on whose budget this group is being financed. Independent, really? You decide!

In researching previous practices of the Working Links group we found this interesting article

Investigation of South Wales contract, February 2007. Failings in relation to the control of this contract led to the DWP requesting that WL should repay around £45,000. After further examination and challenging these claims, and reconciling the amounts overpaid, ultimately some £32,000 was repaid to the DWP; and

Investigation of North Wales contract, August 2007. Malpractices identified in this contract included the inflation of claims and the falsification of records through the block signing of jobseekers’ signatures by some WL staff.

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams MP said: “Any organisation which carries out systemic fraud to profit from exploiting easy targets is wholly unfit to run any legitimate and transparent operation. The coalition needs to review Working Links urgently in light of these allegations.”

A spokeswoman for Working Links said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and rigorous processes in place to handle any suspected incidents of fraud or other misconduct. We firmly reject any assertion of widespread fraud within our business.

Yes, well of course they would have to say that. It does feel uncomfortable reading when we now consider what role this company has in deciding our futures.

The regional Napo & Unison Working Links meeting.

This took place on the 15th December and we have referenced it already, this meeting was organised by Mike McClelland, National Napo Official. He managed to ensure Ian Lawrence the General Secretary’s attendance along with wider local NAPO reps from the three CRCs. There have been several sub local DDCRC meetings in between and from these, branch reps have concluded we have all been told different things at different times. Is this deliberate misinformation or are they just constantly confused by not treating the three CRCs separately? NAPO have concerns at the level of growing evidence for this. Helpfully Pen Gwilliam Napo Chair for the Wales CRC has also been recording their situation. Also attached is the Wales branch report for your information. You will read similar concern from our comrades in relation to the “working links way” of consultation, although we do not accept it can be regarded well.

The General Secretary made it clear if the South West NAPO/ Unison members were prepared to take part in industrial disruption, no matter what form this takes, then NAPO central will ensure the full support and protection for our members. Members should understand at this point, taking part in possible action or work to contract processes and strict job description adherence with appropriate workload observations, will deliver all that is required to Management. It will ensure they know clearly that their plans are most certainly unachievable, if the workforce do not support them, action is the only collective way we can ensure they get this message.

The regional meeting heard from Mr Hindson who was in a clear leader role. Mr Wiseman not so full of the usual script mode. That said, he made little contribution apart from supporting the other director.

Mr Hindson went on to make several apologies on the state of the current consultation relations so far. Not appearing to have any regrets it did not go unnoticed that the common link to the failing situation may well be the HR Director who works for BGSW, as both Mr Hinson and Mr Wiseman appear to seek approval from her. We heard the apologies and a commitment to do things better. With this admission now formal we could consider the failing consultation process and wonder are they going to take different advice? Whatever happens, this has all led to a deepening mistrust, as well as examples to evidence that the current talks do not actually constitute reasonable or proper consultation.

In order to protect our members as widely and effectively as possible the current arrangements give rise for the local branch Executive to consider the issues raised and the following passage gives examples of failing consultations and the risks to employers. It is worth reading keeping in mind if we get to a compulsory redundancy situation.

Unfair redundancy while fair and proper consultation is a necessary ingredient of a fair dismissal, whether the consultation is adequate in all the circumstances is a question of fact for the tribunal. However, some guidance as to what constitutes 'fair consultation' was provided in R v British Coal Corporation and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry ex parte Price and ors 1994 IRLR 72, Div Ct. Lord Justice Glidewell said that fair consultation means consultation when the proposals are still at the formative stage, adequate information, adequate time in which to respond, and conscientious consideration by an authority of the response. Putting it another way, Glidewell LJ stated that consultation 'involves giving the body consulted a fair and proper opportunity to understand fully the matters about which it is being consulted, and to express its views on those subjects, with the consultor thereafter considering those views properly and genuinely'. Although Glidewell LJ's comments were made in the context of the duty to consult collectively under S. 188 TULR(C)A, they have been applied by the EAT in Rowell v Hubbard Group Services Ltd 1995 IRLR 195, EAT, and Pinewood Repro Ltd t/a Countv Print v Page 2011 ICR 508, EAT, and by the Court of Session in King and ors v Eaton Ltd 1996 IRLR 199, Ct Sess (Inner House), all of which are unfair dismissal cases.

In the King case the Court of Session applied Glidewell LJ's definition of 'fair consultation' to the facts of the case before it and overturned a tribunal's finding that there had been proper consultation with the unions. The Court found that, although there had been several meetings with the unions over the redundancies, these had taken place after the employer had formulated its proposals. There Was no indication that the unions had had time to respond to the issues raised or that their views would have been considered. Nor had there been any specific reference at the meetings to the method of selection and this was a further Pointer to the fact that the consultation had been flawed. The Court ruled that the redundancy dismissals were unfair for lack of consultation and because the employer had not shown that its method of selection was fair. The question is always one of what is reasonable in the circumstances.

In a 8.14: small workplace fewer formalities may suffice. In Milne v Distillers Company (Cereals) Ltd EAT 692/87, for example, all but one of the staff were members of the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union, with whom the employer had agreed the redundancy selection procedure. M challenged his dismissal for redundancy on the ground that, as a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union, his union had not been consulted. The EAT upheld a tribunal's rejection of the claim. Given the small size of the plant, the claimant must have been aware from an early stage of the redundancy situation. He had not asked his union to intervene and, moreover, had been individually consulted about his dismissal.

The situation the NAPO branch reps have faced is very similar to being presented a fait accompli. The argument on consultation will no doubt rumble on.

The single most important thing Mr Hindson revealed when questioned on local policy was to make no less than two acceptances that he would in the DDCCRC honour the agreed contractual rates of the full redundancy scheme which of course is welcome. What this means in reality is, that all staff, however they exit either voluntary or compulsorily, will get the enhanced rates of redundancy payments. He made a commitment to honour all the redundancy policies actually, but in that flash of concessions Mike McClelland pulls in the national agreements and was joined by Ian Lawrence General Secretary, who argued that the position is to harmonise the redundancies in Working Links to the most favourable terms. It was a great moment and something we will watch because since then we start to hear the word affordability slipping back. That means someone is going to lose out and that someone will not be our Union members!

The last two key points in this meeting, for me at least, was the bizarre discussion that attracted some misinformed support for keeping the figures confidential from members prior to Christmas. Of course I would have none of that and said so! Thanks to Ian Lawrence the General Secretary who listened, said little and then tweeted them the following morning.

Helen Coley JNCC Rep reminded the employers of the need to look carefully at the groups of staff they were proposing to cut and the demographic with a majority of women in roles that are irreplaceable. We wait to see that impact equality assessment.

Related matters in short

DDCRC continues ongoing recruitment although on temporary contracts against the threat of cuts, we are still not clear on their position?

Targeting offender model has still not been released although is promised. This should illustrate a jobs and locations list.

Mr Hindson also promised the Working Links full blueprint after Christmas, something that was denied us previously so some movement. This is to form part of the consultation information.

With regards the issue of the consultation period clock. There are rules that govern the dismissals notice periods and as yet we are not clear that the employer has engaged the issues properly. Why we need to be careful is the issue of protective awards, the reason being is because if the employer does not get what it wants via voluntary measures to reduce staffing, it will almost certainly try and quickly thereafter, make compulsory cuts. I suspect they will try and do this with minimum consultation time, claiming the clock is running and we are within the appropriate notified time periods. They would have known this as they had the figures but we only received these figures on the 15th December. Yes, it has been the Unions being kept in the dark .

Early retirement was also called for by NAPO and Unison, still we have had no definitive answer, but instead of compulsory redundancies they will almost certainly have to offer this. While we keep asking and they keep ignoring the point, that it will have to be opened to all grades of staff. You can see why the management would want to deny the option. We will keep it on the front burner for all those members who have reminded us of its importance.

NPS Information The NPS is not alone in their share of bad news. The forthcoming E3 proposals have opened up a whole new debate on who does what and a marked shift to reduce roles and diminish Probation Officers structures. The worst news is around the production of reports. The clear and open attempts to reduce the VLO roles has a national resistance movement building against the general swing to form a more controlled and subdued workforce. What is unhelpful has been the inability of Napo to secure local representation rights, which we should have, but are somehow stuck in the drama of being a split organisation. It is a year on and this is about as bad as we could have imagined, yet we all have some ideas we are not at the end of the road yet. In the NPS we have Jill Narin as the deputy chair and she has continued to work hard for members both at the consultative committee meetings and taking on the care for representing members. Well done and thanks to her for that. In relation to all general matters, we will continue to be here and remind all NAPO NPS members to get your electronic direct debit mandates sorted out for continuing in NAPO. The check off ends this month for NPS and it is important, especially with the onslaught of E3, that we are in place to help support and protect you from the excess desires of London control to take what is left from you disguised, in efficiency language. Keep in touch through Jill and write to us at anytime.

Chair’s Message.

It is a sad time for our members and I am sorry, we as a Union, remain split from the NPS. We are bigger in region by number and despite this we are just not able to diminish the threats to your role and jobs easily or quickly. You all know the political climate we are in. That said, we will do all we can to mitigate job losses to a minimum, or preferably with your help, none on compulsory terms. Still not my preferred position, as I would like to ensure a model that works and ensures your future, retaining all our key skills. The obvious thing is, the employers do not want to keep any non qualified skills as they clearly are able to change the culture by removing the people and changing the jobs. It is only PO grade that NAPO have been informed will not be cut under any circumstances. Ok, great news for some and yet this in itself is a message from management of more division towards its staff. This is not the place to argue the merits of role boundary but lets not ignore some of it, either.

The key skills of PSOs are from highly developed and costly training. This places many able to do multiples of roles within the CRC with some additional and appropriate training required around risk and its management and containment. I say this because we do not produce court reports anymore and under redundancies these issues will be tested no doubt. I thank all our branch members and especially branch activists who are holding things together. They know who they are. A special goodbye from the branch to a man who has done so much work and agitating behind the scenes and leaves us now but wants no fuss! To the JNCC Reps Helen Coley and Denice James who continue to work hard for you with Glo Curtis of Unison.

The national team in the form of Mike McClelland who I irritate regularly but respect him for he has many a class moment in this battle we are in and the General Secretary who will be committing further time to the region when he starts his busy every branch tour. We’ll keep you posted.


Into the New Year and through the break, I hope you find some time to forget the work issues and truly have a relaxing time. Whatever your plans we hope for your continued support so that next year we can restart the combat with more energy and effectively tackle the threat they pose to all staff communities and the wider public given the choices they have appeared to make.

Dino Peros - NAPO Branch Chair.

Helen Coley & Denice James - JNCC Rep


  1. Good to see Napo fighting this, although apart from exposing WL we're yet to see what can actually be done to stop the plans of this ruthless Working Links. Clearly WL has made its case and will follow through. I expect they'll be no change because they're not required to negotiate or gain unions approval. That is unless the Ministry of Justice intervenes which we've not seen happen with Sodexo.

    On a seperate point, I cannot understand why John Wiseman FPInst has been made a 'Fellow' of the Probation Institute. This would be in the same vein as giving the Queen giving Rolf Harris a Royal Honour for services to the public ... Err, oh yes she did then stripped him of it! Maybe Now Napo will stop supporting the PI which is supporting those that are destroying probation and practice.

  2. The NPS E3 strategy to downgrade probation work and the role of the probation officer is a sham. There is no way the NPS and Ministry of Justice can justify giving probation work to unqualified staff and new recruits. I'm a bit confused at Napo's position as they seemed to be supporting E3 before and now they're not? Napo clearly needs to come out and oppose this E3 nonsense; where is the public statement?

    1. If Napo has no representation rights with the NPS is there any point in NPS PO's using it as a union?

    2. "using it as a union" rather misses the point of a union...

  3. Not sure how napo can oppose E3. It will be imposed regardless so isn't it better to engage with it in the hope of shaping or constraining it's worst excesses?

    1. No.

      Replace "E3" with "TR" in that paragraph and you'll see how useful engagement with the "hope of shaping or constraining its worse excesses" would be.

      If it's going to be imposed anyway, Napo should refuse point blank to engage, but take the stance that the door is always open for NOMS to open discussions once they realise the errors of their ways. I know plenty of people will say "come on, we live in the real world" but it's abundantly clear that Napo achieved little in the way of restricting the worst problems of TR, so a principled stand is the best one to take right now. Engaging with the process give it a legitimacy it doesn't deserve.

    2. What's achieved by opposing the inevitable in the vain hope we might be able to claim "we told you so" after the fact? If we continue to be 'done to' increasing numbers will simply up and leave, giving them what they want anyway. Surely we need to wrestle what power we can and in the absence of meaningful industrial action, that means being involved in E3.

    3. When I was studying political philosophy, "power" was often defined along the lines of "the ability to make someone do something that they wouldn't otherwise do". Giving the organisation what it wants isn't exercising power in any meaningful sense - and we're still going to be "done to" regardless, as you've already pointed out.

      Refusing to take part with discussions about E3 may well mean we end up in the same place after all, but it might delay the process or even give Whitehall a chance to think "hang on, maybe we should rethink this". Engaging with it is tantamount to agreeing with it; signing up to the framework agreement was how union opposition to TR was fatally weakened.

  4. I agree it's odd that a fellow of the Probation Institute is one of the bad guys. Still, it must be some consolation that he has the support of the unions!

    I agree 8:19 that publicising the behaviour of WL is a good thing, but, alas, it's unlikely to prevent the proposed restructure. There is nothing that the unions can do to prevent job losses. And any actual resistance unlikely as too much bystander apathy amongst members.

    Despite all these missives there is still a lack of clarity regarding the WL position on enhanced redundancy as it's not clear whether it will be subject to 'affordability'.

    8:13, Napo does have representation rights for the CRCs and NPS. But this dispute has nothing to do with the NPS.

    1. Divide & rule - something else the unions missed by a country mile when they agreed to the "shafting" (formally known as 'sifting') process.

  5. How many staff would accept enhanced EVR if offered by WL?

    1. Well I am a PO and would be gone but doesn't look will get opportunity. I know a fair number of colleagues who would as well. The problem for WL will be retention of POs as the job has become so one dimensional and there is a lack of confidence in the business model.

    2. I'd say that I lacked confidence in the business model too, but no-one around here seems to know what it is... Is it possible that WL are still searching for a bigger envelope to write on?

    3. I suspect any EVR scheme would be over-subscribed if extended to all staff. There are many (myself included) who'd be tempted to take EVR, wait out any period of gardening leave, then come back on an agency basis at a higher rate of pay, as it's abundantly clear that WL can't run any kind of service on the numbers quoted above. This will leave them in all sorts of trouble.

      Sodexo might be looking at remedial action in South Yorks and potentially other areas, but at least it's a massive multinational company and can absorb the costs. In the case of Lurking Winks, we could be looking at the collapse of the company within a couple of years.

  6. One imagines that the officials and representatives of the three unions concerned are stretched beyond reason as they strive to deal simultaneously with so many employers who mostly seem to be trying to curtail the employment of many individuals as they also reorganise their operating models and introduce new IT systems.

    It really seems as if danger and disaster is a possible and even likely outcome.

    Hence staff will be better served by being Union members, so those unions have maximised income to pay for the work that is needed to minimise the damage to the employment prospects of individuals and sectors of workers.

  7. Given that an unknown number chose to apply and presumably accept Sodexos miserly redundancy terms, it seems a fair assumption that if EVR as defined in the framework agreement was offered there would be some enthusiastic takers.

    This Working Links situation is merely part of the domino sequence started by Sodexo. There was a local ballot to reject Sodexo’s redundancy terms but nothing came of it and anyway the local branch and Napo nationally seemed to be singing from different hymn sheets! (see probation blog 7/8/15). And this latest branch email intimates there are local and national tensions also playing out.

    The unions are powerless.

    The law on redundancy is fairly clear and all anyone need do is visit the ACAS website. As long as the employer follows the recognised redundancy process, they are protected against claims of unfair dismissal. The rules facilitate 'restructuring' (which usually means redundancies) because the UK prefers flexibility for employers rather than social protection for workers. It's easier to get rid of workers here than in many other EU member states.

    The only counterbalance is the capacity of the workers to resist change, to mitigate its effects and get the best deal. This can be tried through negotiations, but as Sodexo showed it is easy to bypass collective bargaining and deal directly with individuals – and there was nothing the unions could do in reply, except complain about the morality of EVR.

    Similarly, Working Links will go through the motions. They will consult and act reasonably as the law requires, but they are under no obligation to reach any agreement with the unions. The CRCs are not interested in collective bargaining. The rules of the game have changed and the unions in probation will become serial losers. The unions in terms of justice and fairness may win every argument, but speaking softly without a big stick in reserve will not get them very far.

    It is clear that Napo and Unison negotiators are in a weak position: members are not,alas, straining at the leash to take industrial action. There is individual anguish, but no collective anger that could become a mandate for action. The employers know this but still must be a bit surprised at the levels of passivity in the workforce. Sodexo gave the unions a slap in the face and got their own way because they knew the unions could only bark and posture.

    Napo says if members want to fight the leadership will give their full support. It would be more helpful for Napo and Unison to set out what they believe can be achieved in the current climate. Instead union leaders believe they have to be seen to be keeping up appearances, but they cannot change anything for the better.

    1. Sodexo played fast & loose with the politics of fear, and the unions were out of their league. Staff were so misled & frightened by Sodexo's goons that before any union advice was eventually disseminated the numbers required by Sodexo had been achieved. I eventually put my hand out for the 40% of EVR because (1) independent legal advice told me I was unlikely to achieve what the unions had failed to achieve & (2) I knew from experience that anyone "off message" who remained would be managed out using capability or similar. Oh, and the unions were crap - they did nothing to counter the bullying management or the threats, or to challenge the lies & misdirections.

      The situation seems different now in that the unions appear to be challenging the management position. But if anyone were to ask me what I would do... take the EVR & leave them to it. There are plenty of opportunities to exercise your skills with other agencies. Just walk with what they owe you, lose the stress & reclaim your life.

  8. Completely agree net nipper. Our members are not militant and history shows many would not be willing to engage in collective action, yet they expect the union to act for them with no teeth. The ultimate catch 22. Credit must be given to the author of today's blog who appears to be committed to challenging working links; at least they will have to try to justify why they are making so many staff unemployed. A sad new year for many.

  9. The problem is also the weakness of probation senior management and chief officers, mostly former probation officers. They have over the past decade become part of the problem and TR showed the majority as no different from privateers and ministry officials that are happy to end the probation service, making profit and reputation wherever they can. This ilk is reflective in both NPS and CRC. They bully frontline staff, restrict middle managers and sideline the unions. A strong union with a full member-base could have dented this but the union is not strong and members are tired. Catch 22.

    1. My experience of chief officers - all ex-POs - has been that they've always been very keen to remind us of their own history as frontline staff, yet when recounting anecdotes have often described some very dodgy practice. Perhaps they didn't like being POs very much?

  10. While I admire all the efforts going in to protect staff I fear WL will just use the tried and tested tactics of Sodexo. I work as a PO in Northern Town Sodexo run and can confirm that all tactics were used to fight against Sodexo and in the end Sodexo won as laws are heavily weighted in favour of the employer.
    Staff in our area predicted that once Sodexo had completed their cuts (as they could probably afford to make any initial mistakes) then other areas would follow suit.
    It looks like working links are trotting out the whole vol redundancy scheme and compulsory redundancies would not occur. Please be aware WL area that anyone getting excited at the thought of leaving in EVR will need to think again. we too did the calculations and got excited and thought that it would be a case of over subscription to leave on EVR. What happened next was that Sodexo stated they could not afford to offer vol redundancy and instead ask for volunteer to leave on severance. while I don't wish to patronise anyone (probably not though as it took ages for this whole concept to sink in with staff in our area) this is when an employer wishes for an employee or employees to leave a company and is willing to pay them a certain amount (severance pay) so that the employee will contractually agree not to sue the company for any claims they may have against the company.
    This is perfectly legal and is used in may businesses and organisations - sometimes referred to as a compromise agreement. This is not only cheaper than redundancy payments but for the employer gets them completely off the hook when it comes to any breaches of the redundancy policy - they are not invoking the redundancy policy by offering severance so do not have to abide by anything in the policy.
    I suppose one good bit of news is however that enough staff in our area did take the severance offer and no compulsory redundancies were made - some were close to retirement and some had already applied to NPS so the timing for them was good as they got a nice lump sum to transfer to NPS.Others however who could not afford to take severance have now been left to pick up the pieces. Case loads are ridiculously high, stress levels are through the roof with sickness levels going up as a result - vicious circle.
    it seems most companies who have taken on crcs are based on same model - shut local reporting offices and have one central office or not so central as we are finding out as the most convenient/sensible places are too expensive for Sodexo. trust me, I work in what is a fairly cheap city for buildings but sodexo have a virtually non existent budget. plus they did not take into account that some landlords/agencies and co locators did not want probation in their buildings so has limited even further the few options available in the first place.
    another familiar theme is the centralised admin hub , which will also be base for ceo etc in our area this is located somewhere entirely unsuitable for most staff to get to if they live in certain part of the area which forced some to take severance and others having to put up with what will be 2 hour commute.7 staff have already left that were due to work in admin at the hub (excluding severance) so only 8 remaining to cover phones and do all admin work for what is a very large northern area. I say "will" as it has been put on hold due to the problems faced by south Yorkshire and also rumours that the internet connection just isn't up to scratch (which is similar in our office)
    every day staff repeat the same comments about what a joke probation is now...that it feels like a micky mouse organisation...not proud to work for isn't probation...standards have dropped...moral extremely low...fed up of targets clearly taking precedent before everything else..and the list goes on and on and on. to sum up probation is fucking shit now - sorry to use such language but there is no other way of putting it. we were one of the top performing areas in the country and we are just a joke now.

  11. In the original email sent to the WL CRC staff it stated "those people that are eligible (for EVR) will receive more information about the process this week"
    Has any actually received this info? I haven't heard of admin staff that have, makes me wonder if this was just a delaying/avoidance technique by WL.

    1. WL managers are very good at promising information by a certain time, then failing to deliver it. They also appear to have forgotten that they said they wouldn't put the above information out before Christmas. It's probably a case of someone not having bothered to press 'Send' on the emails yet.

  12. Probation Officer30 December 2015 at 19:26

    It's such a pity there is no leadership for probation officers/workers. Our senior managers are snakes, our union is shaky and our professional institute represents the enemy within. If unions were credible they would be supported. If they were there would probably now be full scale industrial action by NPS and CRC's probation staff against Sodexo et al cuts and the coming E3 shambles. There's many places we can lay blame but I think every probation worker (excepting senior managers) need to be asking why we're mostly just a bunch of whiners that do nothing, myself included!

  13. NY2016HonoursFullList

    Order of the British Empire

    Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

    Sarah, Mrs PAYNE

    Director, National Offender Management
    Service, Wales, Ministry of Justice. For
    services to Prisons, Probation and the
    community in Wales.

    (Cardiff, South Glamorgan)

    1. Reminds me of an 80's advert for a chocolate biscuit - "join our Club".

    2. She was drafted into Wales to oversee the changes. She had no clue about probation.

    3. Didn't they just last year give OBE's to Chief Probation Officers Heather Munro, Tessa Webb and others for helping along the probation sell-off? They may as well give John Wiseman FPInst a Knighthood too while they're at it for services to Working Links. It sickens me when Probation Chiefs and directors receive awards for the work they do not do, and particularly when both NPS and CRC are currently devaluing probation practice and ending the professionalism and careers of thousands of staff. We do the frontline work and we should get the rewards, even a pay rise in line with inflation would be nice. As usual the perks and rewards goto these highly paid 'Ivory-tower' puppets that are responsible for the death of the probation service.

      Yes I'm bitter!

    4. ���� "If you like a lot of chocolate on your nose then join our club"

      Warning: Chocolate can be bitter as well as sweet. You may lose your job if you don't keep up the pretence. Other confectionery products are also available.

    5. OBE - well known as standing for Other Buggers' Efforts. Probation staff, in this case, being the Other Buggers. You do the graft;they get the silly gongs.

  14. Yes but remember the key to their success lies in our hands

  15. FROM Laurus development Website: -

    " Very proud of our Chief Operating Officer @LaurusJulia becoming one of the first fellows of @ProbInstitute about 1 month ago "

    1. The Probation Institute will soon have more fellows than members. Quite a network of fellows who will have to watch out for conflicts of interests as they are very much in the probation marketplace offering various services in the pursuit of excellence and influence.

  16. Sounds like Ms Payne is in good company. Not long until a seasonal Damehood, perhaps, given the eligibility criteria demonstrated by Lin Homer, head of HMRC. In 2005, Homer was CEO of Birmingham City Council & criticised by the Election Commissioner for failings in her role as returning officer during a postal vote-rigging scandal, described by the Commissioner as one that "would disgrace a banana republic". Homer resigned from her post shortly afterwards, joining the civil service as the Director-General heading the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office, in August 2005. The Home Office was re-organised in 2008, with the formation of the Border and Immigration Agency, soon renamed the UK Border Agency, of which Homer became the first chief executive. Homer's tenure at UKBA was criticised for its "catastrophic leadership failure". In 2010 it was announced that Homer was to become Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport . While serving in this role she oversaw the controversial franchise letting process for West Coast Mainline rail network. Homer was among those accused by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Trains, of ignoring concerns about the letting process, whose failure is estimated to have cost £100 million of public money. In December 2011 it was announced that Homer would become Chief Executive of HMRC & shortly thereafter criticised by the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee for its "unambitious and woefully inadequate" customer service performance; plus it seems numerous wealthy tax evaders have also managed to avoid prosecution by HMRC after hiding their pennies in Swiss accounts. Well done!!

    1. This is typical of government departments promoting incompetent managers, its happened in probation for years, not to mention encouraging ambition above ability. But as a front line worker you are hounded if you don't hand your time sheet in on time, oh and don't expect to get a glass of water as a reward, its too expensive. Ppl should take the best deal on offer and get out of the cesspit probation has become. Let the vultures pick over what's left and look to build yourself a better future. This is my New Year resolution because I feel there is no other choice. Thank you Jim for your commitment and determination to expose the truth and lies. I wish a better New Year to all my colleagues

  17. Jim, thanks for another year of blogging. From my perspective its been a year of pain & despair professionally, but there are those who have unashamedly cashed in on the TR 'market' - KERCHING!!! Its been sad watching the inevitability of the unravellng disaster, all of which was predicted on this blogsite many times.

  18. Having worked for WL previously... I can assure you that no amount of well structured and relevant cases put forward will make a blind bit of difference. WL play blind to any project they run. Bid the dream and deliver the nightmare. WL aim for profit only, staff are not valued but considered a cost. I wish you all the best of luck in the future, but would not put my money on the jobs at risk being saved.