"Steering Committee expects that we will have a quorate and fully functioning AGM in Cardiff in a couple of weeks’ time which will be great."TUC16 - Postcard from Brighton
I hope that followers on Twitter noticed the regular snippets about proceedings that Yvonne Pattison and I sent out over the course of the Trade Union Congress in Brighton this week. If you didn’t see them then let me tell you that Napo played a pretty full part in the proceedings with three keynote speeches from us on prison reform, probation provision and the role of Cafcass in the Justice System (I will see if we can get the recordings up on the website next week) and two appearances by me at fringe meetings on the need for a debate among trade union members on Electoral Reform.
My personal view on this issue, is that we can no longer leave the electorate at the mercy of an outmoded, unfair and useless first past the post system, but why not let me know what you think and we can get a debate going in an open and transparent manner amongst our membership.
On the many other issues under debate it was good to see such unity amongst the affiliates in supporting the current struggles of the Junior Doctors, Steel and Railway workers and how we can and must combine to fight the increase in racism and xenophobia that has followed that fateful decision to leave the EU. We also considered how to best promote the TUC’s campaign priorities for 2016-2017 such as ensuring that working people must not pay the price for leaving the EU, how we must stand up for and promote the work that we do in abandoned communities and reach out to young workers, and seek to build a strong trade union movement despite the abominable Trade Union Act.
The E3 engagement agenda for Napo reps
As work commences on Phase 2 we have raised the need for a national stock take of E3 with senior NPS management which we have suggested must include NPS Divisional leads and local union reps. I hope to have more news on this soon but meanwhile the following standing items should appear on local JNC agenda’s so that the parties are better informed about E3 implementation and the problems being faced by members.
One example of how feedback can make a difference is the fact that we have secured a high level meeting next week specifically on AP issues which have been raised through the unions and we intend to report on the outcomes as soon as possible. Napo has also asked NOMS that until a number of things are clear about the proposal to outsource double waking night cover then there should be a halt called to the meaningless 1-1’s with staff where facts are in pretty short supply. AGM attendees are also reminded that one of the Chief Architects of E3 in the form of Deputy Director Jim Barton will be the keynote speaker at the E3 fringe that we have organised. Jim says he’s looking forward to it.
A.T. issues - again and again and again
We keep the pressure on over AT issues and we are especially grateful to many members for their contributions and London Napo Branch and Terry Wilson for an excellent paper that they sent us. This graphically illustrates the perennial problems that our team has taken up again with senior NOMS management at a recent engagement meeting.
Members all across the NPS estate, who require equipment to assist with reasonable adjustment, will be familiar with sometimes having to wait for over a year to get what they need. There are many examples of bureaucratic issues but also the lack of accountability in the system which leads to these problems. Examples given are a 14 month wait for AT equipment, a year wait for a specialist chair, members being told not to refer themselves toAccess to Work, other members being told the equipment they need cannot be ordered. In short it's a big mess and we have been working to highlight how awful it is for members who need reasonable adjustments to be in place. The prospect of members having to go on extended disability leave while RAs are awaiting implementation ought to ring some alarm bells somewhere.
NNC reform - big decisions needed at the AGM
Steering Committee expects that we will have a quorate and fully functioning AGM in Cardiff in a couple of weeks’ time which will be great; but it’s not an excuse to think that you need not bother being there! If you have registered already then we need you, and if you have not then you will be most welcome.
The report on potential NNC reform that we issued to all members this week N27-2016 PLUS APPENDICES illustrates just one of the important issues that will be put before the conference. We are asking Napo members to provide a clear steer as to what bargaining structures you want us to be part of in the future.
There will also be a discussion paper for AGM which sets out the arguments for and against moving to a new structure for negotiations but its’ worth pointing out that I have reminded employers of the need to signal that they will recognise NNC legacy policies at June 2014 and NPS negotiated pay deals as the minimum benchmark for any new negotiating model. It’s a big call for them too.
N 27/2016 NNC Reform
The future of National Collective Bargaining for Probation - members to decide
This circular updates Napo members on the developments regarding potential reform to the current national collective bargaining arrangements for probation members working for the National Probation Service and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies. Another document will be issued in advance of Napo's AGM to inform discussion in the expected debate on two submitted motions.
Currently the pay and conditions of NPS and CRC staff are decided by national negotiations which take place at the Probation National Negotiating Council (NNC) for staff on pay bands 1 to 6 and at the Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades (SCCOG) for pay bands beyond. The NNC/SCCOG 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 in 2014 as result of Transforming Rehabilitation. The NNC and SCCOG have continued to operate for the two years since the staffing split.
However, the probation unions were advised by the NPS and the CRC owners in late 2014 that they no longer believe that NNC/SCCOG is fit for purpose anymore because:
- 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.
In essence, the employers want to disband the current NNC/SCCOG machinery and allow each employer to set up its own local negotiating body with the unions to negotiate future pay and conditions, including the annual pay award.
Joint Union Response
In response to the employers the probation unions put forward a counter proposal to protect the NNC/SCCOG in January this year. At the same time, the unions recognised that the role and remit of both the negotiating bodies would have to change to reflect the realities of the post share-sale environment for both NPS and the CRCs.
In summary, the joint union proposals were for:
- NNC/SCCOG to remain as national bodies with jurisdiction over NNC/SCCOG Handbooks and national collective agreements
- CRC participation at NNC/SCCOG to be refreshed in line with post share sale environment
- NPS to create a Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC) to enable formal negotiations and collective agreements to be reached between NPS and NPS trade unions. This will mirror the existing arrangements in each of the CRCs.
- NPS JNCC and CRC JNCCs to be given latitude to amend NNC/SCCOG terms and conditions by local collective agreement.
- Balance between national and local agreements to therefore be opened up for local negotiation and agreement
- NNC/SCCOG Joint Secretaries to remain available to arbitrate over NNC/SCCOG agreements, management of change procedures and local disputes as necessary
- Probation Consultative Forum (PCF) to be opened up to the CRCs as full participating members
In April the unions followed up these proposals with confirmation that any change to the NNC/SCCOG negotiating machinery would have to be put to members for approval. We also pointed out that there would be significant resource implications for employers in reforming the negotiating machinery.
In particular, we highlighted our expectation that employers would have to put the following in place first:
- 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.
- 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
- A professional forum which would allow for dialogue on probation practice issues between the NPs and CRC representatives
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 subsequently agreed to enter talks with the NNC/SCCOG employers on a national collective agreement to reform the NNC/SCCOG machinery in line with the joint union proposals submitted in January. The Committee agreed that the following principles and elements must be included in any such new collective agreement:
- Any change to the current 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 minimum standards for any local negotiations going forward
- Any local change to the terms of the NNC Handbook must be by local collective agreement only
- Napo members to be consulted on the proposals and these to be debated at AGM
- Existing trade union recognition agreements to be confirmed:
- Napo and Unison for staff in NNC pay bands
- Napo and GMB/SCOOP for staff in SCCOG pay bands
- Facility time and trade union facilities to be put in place to support the new bargaining arrangements
- New collective bargaining structures:
- Employer level JNCCs, or Owner level JNCCs
- Formal trade union sides with lay member representation
- Dispute and arbitration machinery available via ACAS
- Management of legacy (NNC handbook) issues:
- Via NNC Joint Secretaries
- Up to date NNC Handbook and NNC circulars library to be published on-line for ease of access
- Variations to the NNC Handbook can only happen by local collective agreement
Following these discussions the employers have now submitted proposals to the unions for consideration and these are attached as Appendix A to this circular. Members and Reps are asked to study these carefully in advance of the forthcoming AGM.
Also attached in Appendix B are the proposals from NOMS for a Joint Negotiating Council for the NPS, a disputes resolution process for the NPS and a draft constitution for the Probation Practice Forum for both the NPS, Community Rehabilitation Companies and unions.
Negotiation over Pay
The NPS and CRCs also 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 at this time, because this would have to be put to our members in the context of any proposals to reform the existing national pay agreement. Moreover, Napo is insisting that employers must recognise the NPS pay settlement as the minimum standard for commencing local annual pay negotiations at pan-CRC level.
NPS has already started talks with the probation unions over reforming the NNC pay and grading structure for the 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.
We are asking your local Napo representatives to be alert to any attempts by CRCs to implement local bargaining structures to replace the existing national collective bargaining machinery. Until Napo members have provided a view at the AGM about the proposals for reform of the machinery, CRCs should be reminded that the current national negotiating arrangements will continue.
The NNC employers would like any new arrangements in place by 1 November, which is realistically the very earliest that any changes could take place, and as these would have to have been agreed by the unions in advance of this date, it is possible that there could be unavoidable slippage to this timetable.
Any queries about the contents of this circular should ideally be directed email@example.com via your Napo Branch and your link Officer and Official
Chris Winters Ian Lawrence
National Co-Chair Napo General Secretary