Today's blog from Napo's General Secretary:-
NNC Reform? Members to decide
Some time ago NOMS, and a number of CRC employers, signalled their wish to reform the current National Negotiating Council (NNC) and Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades (SCCOG) machinery.
Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee and your National Executive Committee have received reports from the two meetings that have taken place this year between the employers and the three probation unions involved, and a set of proposals have now been presented by the employers which I will be issuing in full to members next week in the hope that you will decide to debate them at the forthcoming AGM in (Cardiff 29th September to 1st October). The AGM motions list contains a motion supporting reform and one seeking no change to national collective bargaining. It is also intended that a pre-AGM discussion document will be issued which presents the pros and cons of NNC reform.
The intention is that the proposed new arrangements for single table bargaining between employers and unions will commence from this November. I do need to make it clear that these have not been agreed by the unions, as it’s become apparent this week that there is some duff intelligence circulating about the actual position that we have reached.
What’s on offer?
The proposals suggest reforming the current national collective bargaining arrangements for probation members working for the National Probation Service and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies.
Presently the pay and conditions of NPS and CRC staff are decided by national negotiations which take place at the NNC for staff on pay bands 1 to 6 and at SCCOG for senior managerial grades. The current negotiating machinery was protected in the NNC/SCCOG Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement which governed the transfer of staff to the NPS and the CRCs prior to the introduction of Transforming Rehabilitation in 2014.
It is no secret that NPS and the CRC owners wish to see changes because:
- The NPS is a civil service employer which is bound by the Treasury and by civil service policy and procedure.
- The CRCs are now privately owned separate bodies which want to develop their own approaches to future pay and conditions.
- The CRC owners do not want to sit around the same negotiating table and have to share commercially sensitive information with their competitors during pay talks.
The Joint Union Response
In response, and after debate by Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee, the probation unions put forward a counter proposal to protect the NNC/SCCOG. At the same time, the unions recognised that the role and remit of both these negotiating bodies would have to change to reflect the post TR environment for both NPS and the CRCs.
In summary, we suggested that:
- The NNC/SCCOG remain as national bodies with jurisdiction over NNC/SCCOG handbooks and national collective agreements.
- CRC participation at NNC/SCCOG be refreshed in line with the post share sale environment.
- NPS to create a Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC) to enable formal national negotiations and collective agreements to be reached between NPS and NPS trade unions. This will mirror the existing arrangements that exist within each of the CRCs.
- NPS JNCC and CRC JNCCs to be given latitude to amend NNC/SCCOG terms and conditions by local collective agreement, with minimum standards being the National Staff Transfer and Protections agreement.
- NNC/SCCOG Joint Secretaries to remain available to arbitrate over NNC/SCCOG agreements, management of change procedures.
- New local dispute and arbitration machinery involving the use of ACAS.
- Probation Consultative Forum (PCF) which is a non negotiating body dealing with professional and practice issues across probation to be opened up to the CRCs as full participating members.
- Effective employer level joint negotiating and consultative committees (JNCCs) to enable proper local negotiation to take place and reach agreements. Where appropriate, agreed Cross-CRC Forums for issues that span a block of CRCs owned by one company (this is already existing practice in many areas).
- Trade union side representation on new JNCCs/Cross CRC Forums to enable all recognised unions to be fully represented across all NPS Divisions and CRC employer areas.
- Sufficient facility time to enable the trade unions to play a full role in local bargaining.
- Training for sufficient trade union representatives to play a new expanded role in the new landscape.
- Travel and subsistence to be available at the employer’s cost for trade union representatives to attend meetings.
The employers responded by asking the unions to confirm if we were prepared to allow individual employers to negotiate the annual pay rise with the unions locally. The unions indicated that we would have to put this to members as part of the eventual proposals that emerge to reform the negotiating machinery.
Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee met recently to consider the latest developments and agreed to submit a motion to the AGM which supports reforms to the NNC provided that a number of important principles are enshrined in a new collective agreement. These are:
- That any change to the national collective bargaining machinery will require a national collective agreement at the NNC
- The NNC Handbook will need to be updated in advance of any changes in line with recent agreements since 2014 to form the baseline for any local negotiations going forward
- The NNC/SCCOG bargaining bodies to merge to form a single table bargaining machinery at NPS level
- Any local change to the NNC Handbook must be by local collective agreement only
Given the foregoing, it’s no surprise that the NPS and CRCs want to move away from a single national pay deal for NPS and CRCs during 2016 and allow the 2016 pay rise to be negotiated at local level.
Napo has not agreed to this because this would first need our members to agree in the draft national collective agreement which we are proposing as the means of reforming the negotiating machinery.
NPS has already started talks with the unions over reforming the NNC pay and grading structure for NPS only. Napo believes that these talks could potentially be widened to include the CRCs as well to ensure that we have a level playing field on pay going forward.
Until Napo members have voted for whatever reforms emerge from the on-going national talks on pay reform, CRCs should be reminded that the current national pay arrangements will continue.
The employers’ side would like any new arrangements in place by 1 November, which is the very earliest that any changes could take place, but as these would have to have been agreed by the unions in advance of this date, this timetable may be aspirational.
Please look out for more detailed information about this important issue over the next week or so.
Unions seek urgent meeting on AP issues
I am grateful for the feedback from branches and members about the problems being experienced as a result of the implementation of E3 and we will take this into our upcoming meeting with NOMS next week. Meanwhile, the unions have asked for a specific and urgent meeting to discuss the specific difficulties in Approved Premises notably around: the inflexible approach being adopted towards staffing Rotas, the privatisation of night waking cover, TUPE arrangements, the matching and slotting process and pay protection.
As always, trying to find a slot for a meeting is a task in itself, but we will get more news to you as soon as we can.