Here's the latest blog from Napo General Secretary:-
Napo secures significant protections in E3 negotiations
The E3 operational model is one of three key issues on which Napo negotiators have been involved over these past five months, the others being Pay (and future pay) and the shape of the National Negotiating Council and how a structure for engagement with NPS and CRC employers can best work in our members interests. There will be more news on the latter once we have dealt with the immediate issues around E3 that I am summarising below.
On E3, Napo has submitted the views of our members before and during the negotiations and of course there have been, and still are, a multitude of questions about what the programme will mean for each individual member of staff. These are being fed through to the E3 architects and I expect answers will be forthcoming by way of further communications and FAQs over the coming weeks.
Your Officers and Officials have been doing our level best to answer these as best we can, but I hope that our members will appreciate that it’s just not possible for us to have instantaneous answers to everything, especially as we have been engaged in what have been highly detailed negotiations. Everyone in the Napo leadership group acknowledges that much of what E3 proposes does not sit comfortably with our members, following the trauma caused by the implementation of TR.
No redundancy pledge
At the time of writing we are due to receive the near final version of an implementation agreement from NOMS. I will be reporting to the Probation Negotiating Committee and your National Executive Committee that the Officers and myself believe that the offers from the employer around job security and pay protection should be recommended to Napo members. The formal consultation ends on May 8th and NOMS will then be considering the representations that we have been submitting during our discussions. This does not mean that we will stop trying to influence the way in which the E3 blueprint is enacted and developed over the next two years. This is made clear in the wording in the agreement that we expect to be able to issue to Napo members next week in its entirety, before NOMS publish it to all staff afterwards.
I have been around the trade union world long enough to realise that for every success there are often tenfold disappointments. Nevertheless, I certainly won't be apologising for having helped to achieve what is the nearest thing to a no redundancy agreement that I have seen in the current climate.
Of course that won't mask the inescapable fact that E3 will impact differently on each individual especially in terms of possible relocation, and potential role changes, and that the longer term staffing projections (which we do not agree with) show that less people will be needed than now due to natural wastage; but this assurance is a major result for our members.
I wrote a few weeks back that none of us here are happy at all the outcomes of the job evaluation exercises that have been undertaken as part of E3. Many of you have made it clear how you share that view in no uncertain terms, but remember that the unions do not own this process and are not able to simply demand the results that we would all like to see. Our representations on this continue (as can be seen below).
Our overall approach here has been straightforward enough, in that the unions have said: if the employer wishes to undertake a business re-engineering exercise of this magnitude then it needs to do everything to protect staff from the consequences. I am pleased to say that our exhortations in this respect have also been successful, and any member of staff who falls the wrong side of the re-banding exercise will receive three years pay protection from the date on which an individual commences their duties in the new job description. NOMS have said that this will not include portable allowances such as Market Forces Supplements, but we are still in discussion about exactly how many staff may be affected by this.
A guaranteed future job role
Whilst the pay protection offer is no less than we all would have expected, we live in a different world from that of 18 months ago, and this achievement has required sign off at a high level in the NOMS/ MOJ food chain. But we have not stopped there, as the implementation agreement will make it clear that individuals in receipt of pay protection will, by the time that the three year term concludes, be moved to a role within their protected grade.
Again, I won’t pretend that this prospect will be comfortable for everyone as many of our members are quite content with (and take massive personal pride) in what they deliver and how they go about it, but notwithstanding, these are important protections that have been brought about by Napo's hard work and tenacity.
Training and developmental support
We have received a fair amount of enquiries from members on how this crucial issue is going to be progressed under the E3 programme. These vary between the need to ensure the maintenance of professional standards in the face of the 'more for less' strategy that has been imposed by the government, and serious concerns around the quality of what will be on offer and the longer term potential impact on public safety.
Exactly how this aspect of E3 will be put in place is still at large, but Napo will be wanting to see early evidence of the employers plans in this respect.
Job Evaluation review under way
As I have previously reported, the unions have agreed a process which will be applied to future job evaluation as part of organisational change together with an appeals process. This is already being utilised in respect of the AP Manager, AP Area Manager, AP Residential Worker and Victim Liaison Officer and we are in touch with specialist members to ensure consistency on the soon to be resubmitted job descriptions and job description questionnaires.
Last week after seeing some highly misleading communications around the VLO situation, I had reason to issue confirmation that individual appeals on these and the above Job Evaluation outcomes are not required. Please contact your Napo Link Officer if in any doubt.
This is important work that we intend to do properly, so an appeal for patience please to those understandably anxious members who have been pressing us for more news.
Consultation with Napo
We are pressing NOMS about the unanswered questions arising from the E3 negotiations and we will issue more news about this shortly. I also want to take this opportunity to again thank those Napo members who have stepped up to the plate for the E3 engagement events and those who have been involved in the JE process.
Whilst there are a number of areas (listed below) where work is still in progress, the view from the centre is that the job security and pay protection aspects represent the best that can be achieved by negotiation.
So what's not so good?
As I have said on more than one occasion, an operating model for the NPS should have been in place at the time that the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies were sold off, but it wasn't. Given that the NPS, as set up, was always going to be unsustainable financially and operationally, it was inevitable that major change of this nature would have to happen.
It would be wonderful if Napo and the other unions could simply say 'no' and make it all go away, but that's never going to happen unless we get ourselves into a position to wage an effective campaign of industrial action. That leaves us with the route of negotiation and the difficult task of getting answers to a number of important questions which our members are not unreasonably expecting.
The following is not exhaustive, but there is evident concern about the plan to rotate staff to different roles every few years. Some PSO members currently working with victims, managing enforcement or other specialist roles have been telling us that they do not want an OM role and would not welcome such a change especially without a pay increase that recognises the increase in their responsibilities.
Members have asked who will be responsible for developing the training that has been promised and how will it compare with that of POs who have spent between 15 months and 2 years qualifying with a dedicated practice tutor to coach them?
We, along with our members who work across the prison estate, eagerly await the outcome of the Offender Management in Custody Review and how this squares with Ministerial and Prime Ministerial statements about prison reform and the interface with E3.
On workload measurement, there is undoubtedly a lot still to do and Napo has robustly challenged NOMS on its initial calculations under E3. We will be entering into detailed discussions over the coming weeks to try and secure some realistic outcomes that take account of issues such as the impact on Victim workers who have told us that their work will be made harder because of the new IT system which requires manual input of all old and existing cases.
Similarly on ARMS administration, where caseworkers say that the E3 timings fail to take account of the actual time required to complete data input meaning that things can get missed.
On the proposed delivery regime for short format reports there is major concern amongst members. We have this high on our agenda for our forthcoming meeting with Michael Gove where we intend to explain how the delivery of more 'on the day' PSR reports (mainly by PSO's) has shifted the balance of work and responsibility in a way that is simply not safe. In advance of this, and as you would expect, we have also made it clear to senior NOMS management that this issue needs a major rethink, and in itself could be the catalyst for a specific campaign.
At this week’s engagement meeting we indicated our dissatisfaction about the late receipt of the equality analysis for E3 and its lack of detail. We have said that our members will expect to have time to examine this along with all of the component parts of E3.
Sticking with Napo
It's obvious that E3 represents another huge challenge for your union. That does not mean that we have accepted E3 in its totality, but it does mean that we have the chance to continue trying to reshape elements of the programme and influence the outcomes as best we can.
It’s what we have always done, but I recognise as much as anyone that we have come through the most turbulent time in Napo's long history and that victories however small, have been hard to come by. What I hope I have demonstrated is that we can still deliver when we have the involvement and professional input, from our members.
The protections under E3 have not just appeared out of thin air; they have come about because this union has worked hard to secure them. It’s another illustration of why it’s worth sticking with Napo, why existing members should make that switch to direct debit, why those who believe in the myth that we never achieve anything might at least think again, and why members should get involved and help shape our approach to these and the other important negotiations where are working hard on your behalf.
Please encourage your colleagues to read this post and to look out for more news which will follow in a members’ mail out next week.