Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Napo at Work in the South West 2

As always, thanks go to the reader for sending me the following blog post, circulated to all branch members in the South West. I publish it as an example and illustration of the sort of thing that must be going on behind the scenes at each CRC around the country:-  

Branch report redundancies update 10

Dear Napo Members

1. One of the most important lessons I have learnt over the years and specifically in relation to employment tribunals is this, “if it is not written down it did not happen”. I appreciate this is an arguable statement to make yet the art of inferring a position and formulating an opinion from matters that are not spelled out or recorded becomes almost impossible. Especially in the process of making any serious claims against employer’s conduct and failures to honour employment procedures and contracts or your express terms.

2. With that understood there are the occasional criticisms that Branch reports to members are too long or complicated. The point to remember here is these reports are written to record the activities that we face as your representatives whilst maintaining some line of evidence for your needs as the worst possible scenarios starts to unfold from the way the CRC is acting. This directed by the pressure and direction it receives from the Working Links company way and how all this will impact on, probably you, as one of the 146 members of staff whose job is planned to be dismissed by the 31 March 2017. I hope this thought starts to sharpen your focus and that we all start to galvanise our efforts to do work which is contained in your job description and working hours. Try not to do anything else that assists the destruction of your role.

3. This report 10 follows closely the last branch report whereby I commented on the potential difficulties for DDC if the Joint union meetings were to include a negotiatory aspect or mandate of the meetings. I can report since Friday 10th June latest Joint Union Meeting with the Working Links management and our General Secretary Ian Lawrence, there has been the announcement of the national probation review. Also Ian is negotiating on a national collective bargaining process for the private contract holders. Mr Hindson acknowledged that the JUM was providing what he had wanted anyway and the idea of moving into a formal terms of reference agreement was largely left. It means to me at least we were right not place formal negotiations into such a wider forum on behalf of our branch. No drama there then although what had also became clear to me and others was the awful state of the minutes. Not that they were poorly written but that they are produced as a sanitised version of events. Regular readers of my reports will know that we have been here too often in DDC. The minutes and meetings are critical an accurate recording should now be kept. Similarly and from that the Joint meeting has agreed to move to audio recording for the remainder of the process as we all look to fight off compulsory redundancies through the incredible reorganisation we all face.

4. This is where things start to get ugly. Despite the minutes are currently not agreed and to be fair we are still to prepare our Trade Union sides corrections and put them forward. One thing captured in the draft minute is this “would engage with Unions on ToR and HR Principles to finalise prior to next meeting” Sadly the meetings for short sides to look at these issues were never actually called by management. You can make your own minds up why not?

5. So despite there being no agreed position on the terms of reference which is an aside issue the management announced that they are to start their discussions with all staff in a matching process of transferring staff into new roles and new jobs within the next four weeks and into July. What this means is that individuals will be consulted on by their manager and a job form will be completed as to each staff members position and working situation. Job matching effectively. Now to start any process that has not been agreed locally is no legitimate process. In any case it is matter for serious concern.

6. The Working Links management, Mr Hindson, makes claim that it is a consultation using the lightest reference and interpretation of the word, while trying to claim it is not consultation. That is laughable yet it cannot be anything other than consultation to reorganisation and dismissals by way of compulsory redundancy. Announcing it in the Joint union meeting does not legitimise the process and it fails to actually follow the appropriate and clear process detailed in the current redundancy procedure. Something they choose to ignore. I have made it clear to Ian Lawrence the Napo General Secretary that we ought to be in full disagreement and on the record in dispute over the process so far including a return to complaint through the central arbitration committee. However, Ian is the leader of the Trade Union NAPO and we are in an odd position whereby his view is to see what happens through the job matching exercise. I might well disagree as to where we are but management are likely to continue anyway imposing a new activity. What remains to be seen after they have matched roles and determine who they want to retain (Cherry picking) the remaining staff at least 146 are no longer required and will likely be looking at dismissal.

7. It will then become a simple process for the management to farcically appear to follow the redundancy procedures and in a new charade run through some of the requirements contained within it. Yet we can all see this will be of little value other than lip service as the management then unilaterally move to mass compulsory dismissal. They will no doubt cite the S188 and issue a new one and then try and move quickly to downscale the work force as soon as possible and the 31 3 17 timeline is not a generous period given what they are wanting to do despite their claims.

8. Members, it does not get much worse than this, although Trade Unions are entitled to scrutinise the process and the reasoning for changes in the ways that are being foisted upon our jobs. One of these is to seek to understand the rationale and check the justifications. In the recent JUM we had heard from the so called independence of the Innovation Wessex team. We had not, up until the last one received a Section 188 redundancy notice from the employers indicating financial factor as the reason for mass sackings. Once they indicated this, we in the unions have every right to establish where the funding for your jobs goes.

9. We heard from Innovation Wessex who’s Director attended to try and sell to the Unions their justifications and reasoning behind their planned wholesale change to their new model. It has been a long time coming yet since the imposition of the hub working this review called Proof of Concept POC is nothing more than the Innovation Wessex rubber stamping exercise, be in no doubt. The reviewing body is not what we would expect and indeed what should be a truly independent body to ensure complete impartiality. Yet what knowledge we have of their independence is something of a farcical game. We already know many of the 7 staff employed in Innovation Wessex are either seconded DDC CRC staff from senior management and others funded in post in actual fact through the usual budget lines. Amazingly this group and work activity is exempted from the cuts agenda that could and should be looked at in a way to make savings to save your jobs. Of course you will appreciate this internal clearing house funded by your salaries is for those who are no longer frontline and yet what they endorse is the removal of frontline posts.

10. Our attempts to look more critically at the Wessex activities was met with harsh and incredibly wrong assumptions from management about what they are obliged to tell us and what they avoided in argument. By defending the Innovation Wessex questions with commercial sensitivity gave us a clear and obvious protest too much. We now wonder why and will ask again if anyone else knows of the claim management made that in fact Innovation Wessex are delivering on other commercial contracts? Really? Please let us know in Napo. One thing for certain is they would not say who for. We have no idea if this claim to be delivering on a contract was to suggest they are not wholly funded through Working Links and the same budget that pays you. Somehow I think it is only our members’ salaries that will be sacrificed to keep this activity running and we are not finished with this chapter just yet. We will be writing to the management asking for the details financial of the costs of running Innovation Wessex and to what extent it can truly define its independence? We will look to see their accounts as a bona fide business asking for their Company details activities along the lines of the Law requires company directors to prepare reports, keep adequate accounts of transactions to disclose at any time the company and group financial position, in accordance with Companies Act 2006. Other duties to be exercised under the Act are to promote the success of the company, retain independent judgement, take reasonable care, skill and diligence, and avoid conflicts of interest.

11. In relation to the Working Links activities and what we know of their public records past. Are they the most reputable company to Safeguard the company and group assets, including taking reasonable steps to prevent and detect fraud and other irregularities. After the payments scandal of paying monies back to government for the Department of Work and pensions we in NAPO are sceptical about all that we are told by them.

12. In a different direction and for those that will remain, be in no doubt we now have to wait out the summer attacks and see what further distortions we are to endure in what is becoming a tortuous process of subterfuge and mislead. In these reports I record as things actually are. Any trade unionist will realise it will not be long before they come for us. In the meantime I have responsibility to look carefully into what is happening and work to minimising any losses to our jobs.

13. This is something the management have constantly avoided and we remain on record for telling them so and recording in these reports the ways they have constantly rolled out a process that fails to provide any meaningful exchange whereby we can mitigate job losses. Somehow, as the final pieces of this jigsaw come together unless we get into a full dispute and argue with tactical workplace action, we will sleep walk deeper into the end game. For those staff who survive the planned cull, what they will face is the prospect of lower pay worsening terms. Evidence for this is already on the agenda. It is the new job descriptions and a planned Job evaluation process. This will certainly see Management drive a reduced level of responsibility with a repetitive and flattening job role. Little prospects for enhancement and in a job where autonomy becomes a thing of the past. So winning a post in the new targeting offender model of hubs and interventions might well be the challis no one actually wants. Lowering pay and rewards is not something that will stop, no doubt the future will see further attacks on leave and workers care policies, increased hours and weekend working will be something common place. Already staff are being driven to reduce breach actions as these are cash target linked, this being the imperative now! The future may well see the management regret some of its hurry to make a faster profit but lets us hope in some way the latest probation review might just encourage CRC not to axe any further until all the impacts of the probation structures are better understood since the calamity of TR. 

14. Members it is a time of critical meltdown as the management are determined to dismiss a massive number of staff. People with skills and expertise in a limited field. There is a lack of any insight and knowledge of the nature of the work we were once employed to deliver. Therein lies the point we are not like likely either to return to that work properly. Staff sickness is through the roof and complaints have little prospect of being heard or taken seriously. 

15. Our structure of working terms and conditions of service are all under attack and as the workforce reduces through leavers or dismissals the strength for resistance will diminish. It is not too late, for the time being we can impact on targets and the way we manage our workloads and timings. Do only what is in your contract and resist helping them dismiss you.

16. We look forwards to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM in Honiton on the 15th of June. Make sure come along ask some questions and take part in the branch while we have the General Secretary and NPS Deputy Director as our guest speakers.

Dino Peros

Napo SSWest Branch Chair JNCC rep.
14 06 16


Editor's Note

Please bear in mind that any responses may take time to appear because the blog now operates under a system of comment moderation. I appreciate this is somewhat tedious and stifles lively discussion, but is the only way to prevent malicious and moronic contributions that are being submitted on a regular basis and designed to disrupt and provoke distraction from the intended role the blog has in promoting serious discussion and information sharing. I remain adamant in refusing to allow the blog to be maliciously side-tracked by anyone and request forebearance in this regard.


  1. CRC's are screwed. In five years the average worker will be a person with an online counselling qualification on a three year contract topping out on 25k. You will be holding 100 cases and do as you are told with no autonomy. 25 days leave and no job security. The contracts will go to new providers every few years and you will all be TUPED regularly.

    In the NPS it will be a PSO led job as more and more of the work is found to not require a PO. Already most reports are done in a hurry by people who know the least. Soon "low level sex offenders" can be supervised by PSO's. It will not be long before PO grade start to leave as the work is boring but relentless and stressful. As a PO in NPS I have two types of service user, boring and safe...OR distressing and terrifying, there are only so many rapists you can stand at once before it starts to bleed into your life "I hugged my son! Am I grooming him?" "Hmm how many people in this room are downloading images of abuse" Frankly I don't need this in my head. NPS terms and conditions will decline as the "Industry benchmark" becomes the crap conditions in the CRC. Already I have gone 6 years without a substantive pay rise (A few scraps thrown at me a couple of years but never into my salary and so never into my pension)I don't expect to ever have one. In fact with the loss of car users allowance I am pushing £1000 poorer than I was in 2010 in cash terms.

    E3 is just going to lock in the stupidness. We are fucked, corporately, organisationally and personally.

  2. Really just another example of union powerlessness. Although the piece starts out with mention of employment tribunals and protocols, I would predict zero likelihood of any legal challenges. The ship is sinking - spaces on the lifeboats are limited and even for those who survive, choppy waters and killer sharks await.

    1. Really you need to re read this. It is a simple enough description to follow events but the writing point is being made the employers are in breach of the staff terms and this leads to ET the thing I read is this is part of the evidence trail to make ET more likely to be called actually happen and if it is not settled win through. Could be a game changer if that is what they are doing get supported in NAPO and on large numbers. I hear the General Secretary made a pledge or firm commitment to run ETs at that branch AGM when questioned on this.

    2. He did make that pledge

  3. Good to see some union activists' still fighting for terms and conditions otherwise this lot would destroy whatever remains as soon as possible. Wish our reps were as motivated

  4. Ben Butler was under supervision for benefit fraud at the time his daughter was killed. Admittedly pre-split but in the midst of TR. I hope the right questions get asked.

    1. A father who murdered his six-year-old daughter just 11 months after she was returned to his care following a custody battle has been jailed.

      Ben Butler, 36, inflicted catastrophic head injuries upon Ellie while looking after her at their home in Sutton, south-west London, in October 2013. He was also found guilty of child cruelty over a shoulder injury, as was Ellie's mother Jennie Gray. He was jailed for a minimum of 23 years. Gray was jailed for 42 months. Gray, a graphic designer, had admitted perverting the course of justice.

    2. Shocking crime but TR is not to blame for this. The culprit is. RIP!

    3. Wonder what the retired Mrs Justice Hogg is thinking this evening?

  5. Consultation has always been problematic in my experiences with the former Trusts and now CRC and NPS albeit different issues. It doesn't matter whether your CRC or NPS, consultation should have the same meaning but our employers all take a different view and attempt to circumnavigate consultation. We always get the fait accompli in the pretence of consulting on change. Its encouraging to see a branch pushing back on the employer to meet their contractual and legal obligations. The ship maybe sinking 7:23 but at least this branch is looking to save its crew and not leave them to drown.

  6. Courtesy of Wikipedia:

    "Dame Mary Claire Hogg, DBE (15 January 1947), is a British lawyer and former High Court judge. She is the daughter of Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone and his wife, Mary Evelyn Martin, and is the sister of Douglas Hogg.

    Educated at St Paul's Girls School, she was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1989. In 1995, she was named a judge of the High Court of Justice where she sat in the Family Division. At the time of her appointment she was only the seventh female High Court judge.

    In 1995 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of law (LLD) by the University of Westminster, an institution founded by her great-grandfather Quintin Hogg.

    She retired from the High Court in 2016, 6 days prior to the beginning of the trial of Ben Butler for killing his daughter, whom she had previously exonerated despite advice from his local council not to.

    Hogg caused controversy in 1996 when she ruled that a pregnant woman could be held in hospital against her will and forced to have her baby by Caesarean section. The woman had wanted to give birth naturally, but was advised by doctors that both she and the child were likely to die as she was suffering from pre-eclampsia. The ruling was later overturned at the Court of Appeal, which ruled that a pregnant woman could refuse medical help even if doing so risked her baby's life."

  7. And to complete the pen portrait of how privelege can divorce one from reality here's a reminder of the antics of Mrs Justice Hogg's brother, Douglas:

    "A Conservative MP who claimed expenses to clean the moat on his country estate is to return to Parliament to vote on laws again.

    Douglas Hogg, former MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, caused public outrage after claiming £2,200 on one of the most extravagant symbols of the 2009 expenses scandal.

    But Mr Hogg, who did stood down at the 2010 general election after the outcry, will now return to Parliament as a life peer."

  8. What has this got to do with the blog? Getting a bit tabloid for me now!

  9. Attended the WL briefing few weeks ago. I don't think WL quite get their responsibility for public protection. Very worrying! I am all for empowering offenders in a positive way but their approac was all: 'what would the service user want' 'how can we setve them?' No mention of victims such as partners being assaulted! Is this REALLY what the govetnment intended? NOMS AND MOJ yoy need to get involved and get the act together.

  10. So WL are doing a very good job at destroying bgsw crc. The final blow comes with the closure of the purpose built HQ next to the courthouse in north somerset! Just a few remaining staff rattling around in what used to be a hive of activity. Last remaining staff will be hived off to cheap digs no doubt saving WL more cash. No more training rooms and complete loss of identity for an increasingly fragmented service. WL still talking about their estates! What estates? Staff squashed up sharing increasingly cramped spaces and service users having to trail down to bridgwater for groups from town like clevedon! So called community hubs which actually mean a library will little or no private interview space.WL watch your targets plummet as staff fight over inadequate desk and interview space. A case of musical chairs but no winners!