Napo Working Links News Dispute Special
As you will know, the probation unions have been in dispute with the Working Links Community Rehabilitation Companies for over two months.
Attached is the latest joint letter from the Trade Unions which articulates the continuing difficulties that we are encountering in terms of our issues being treated with the seriousness they deserve.
This bulletin has been written to bring you up to date with the discussions that have taken place so far, it also highlights the issues that are still at large and explains why we believe that we now need urgent action if we are to avoid a possible escalation of the dispute into industrial action.
Basis for the dispute
The probation unions are totally opposed to the intention of Working Links to shed nearly 40% of the workforce across their three Community Rehabilitation Companies.
Moreover, we have yet to be convinced of the rationale for the plans which the company claim are linked to the reductions in the number of cases on their books and proposed changes to service provision through the target operating model that they are trying to introduce.
Our position has always been that there is important work to be done across the three CRC's especially given the Government’s intention to make significant reforms to the prison regime, and that we have still to be convinced that job cuts are necessary and sustainable in terms of the responsibility to ensure high quality rehabilitation and supervision to clients and the expected standards of public protection.
If the company is able to prove that further job cuts are absolutely unavoidable, then we obviously want to secure an early agreement that the most appropriate redundancy policy is put into operation to best protect our members’ interests.
As can be seen from the latest joint letter the unions have flatly rejected the offer made last week to make Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy available to a limited number of people and on worse terms than those already awarded to staff who have left their employment or are about to.
Failure to consult signals disrespect to our members Aside from the objections to the prospective job cuts, Napo has made it very clear following feedback from our members, that the operational model they are seeking to introduce is unproven and that the matching process to place staff into new roles has caused unnecessary confusion and chaos with some managers having been placed in an invidious position due to inadequate information and support. Contrary to some rumours, Napo is an inclusive union that is more than happy to include management grades into our membership where you will be most welcome.
The unions are very disappointed at the limited progress that has been made in the two meetings that have taken place so far with senior management. We have made positive and constructive suggestions which would ease tensions and allow a more coordinated approach to exploring the underlying problems that have given rise to this dispute.
We will therefore be entering tomorrows talks with the genuine intention of trying to secure a possible resolution of the dispute, but we will need to see a good deal more conviction and respect for our position than that which we have previously encountered.
For example, we have made a reasonable enough request to the claim from senior management that this is not the first stage of a formal redundancy process by pressing them to withdraw the Section 188 notices of potential redundancies.
Irrespective of the outcome of this week’s talks, the probation unions are now making plans to consult with our members in order that you can provide your national and local representatives with your views on the next steps.
Working Links have been advised that we are keeping all of our options open in order to strengthen our bargaining position and more details about these will be reported to the member meetings which we expect to announce shortly.
Why Union membership is vital
By far the best way to apply pressure on any employer is by the majority of the workforce being members' of a trade union.
This means sticking with your union membership and encouraging colleagues who do not currently belong to Napo to join today.
Make no mistake, the threat to jobs and the intention of the company to let staff go on inferior terms are real and serious, and we stand a better chance of securing negotiated outcomes if more employees belong to a union.
Our view is that it is a mistake for anyone employed by a CRC to hope that events may not actually impact on you, or to believe that things will somehow work out in the end.
Working Links and their new owners in the form of Aurelius (well known as a traditional 'asset stripping' enterprise) are in the probation sector to make a profit first and the welfare of those employed in their CRC's a distant second.
These, and many other CRC owners, are part of an already failing social experiment called Transforming Rehabilitation, and we are increasingly being told that the contracts that were sold to bidders are being described as something of a 'pig in a poke.'
That may not entirely be their fault, but nor is it the fault of Napo members who did not ask to be privatised and never got the chance to vote on whether they should face the employment scrapheap either. They have a not unreasonable expectation that they should be properly compensated if they have no future with the employer.
(The letter referred to was previously published on 06/09/2016 - Ed)