As I have remarked on several previous occasions, politics is as much about luck as anything else and I notice that the on-going dispute with Working Links in the Devon, Dorset and Cornwall CRC over their local redundancy agreement provides the perfect curtain-raiser for Napo's AGM starting tomorrow:-
Napo statement to members re proposal by Working Links to reduce Voluntary Redundancy Terms
Working Links have today issued proposals to run a Voluntary Redundancy (VR) Scheme on inferior terms to the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme that has been made available to some staff. This has not been negotiated or agreed to by the trade unions and the decision to offer this and the wider issue of the planned job cuts have been referred to the National Negotiating Council Joint Secretaries, to whom the unions and employers will be making further representations. A date for that meeting will be notified soon.
Meanwhile, the probation unions are due to meet next Tuesday 4th October to review the situation that we have reached in our ongoing dispute with Working Links. Our advice to members is to not respond to the VR invitation until we issue more news. This is on the basis that we do not agree to the notion of job cuts, or have faith in the intended operating model and that the contractors should pay what they owe to staff who may want to leave the organisation using the best redundancy policy across their three CRC’s especially since no employee asked to be in this position as a result of the dreadful Transforming Rehabilitation agenda.
Last week’s meeting with Working Links
There has been some understandable speculation about the confidential meeting with senior WL management that took place last week attended by Unison Regional Organiser Glyn Jones and myself. I asked your JNCC reps to back my professional judgement (based on experience of these types of disputes for over 40 years) that at this stage of our fight against the job cuts, and trying to get what members deserve on EVR, it was tactically the right thing to do on a one off basis. In terms of how WL may see this, I can assure you that Glyn Jones and I pulled no punches about the issues at the heart of this dispute and any notion that the employer might have that they have somehow divided the unions is seriously mistaken. But two key things came out of the meeting that were not previously on offer.
Firstly, the presentation by WL of their alleged financial position. The decision to receive that information in confidence at this stage means that none of your reps (as CRC employees) would have been placed under intolerable pressure to not reveal commercially sensitive information which, aside from the employers reticence to disclose, was something that their paymasters in NOMS would not allow them to publish anyway while the Probation Systems Review is underway (conclusions from that are due end of October). Nevertheless, the unions have insisted that a similar presentation be made to the whole trade union side and I hope to progress that as soon as possible. For clarity, just because we have been presented with information does not mean that the unions either believe it or accept it as the basis for justifying the job cuts.
Secondly, we have persuaded WL to now go to the NNC Joint Secretaries as we had requested, and their plans will be called in for review thus giving Napo Branches a further opportunity to challenge what has gone on so far. This will help us to formally record that consultation and negotiation have been inadequate or even totally absent should opportunities arise for third party intervention or legal action down the line.
Stand united against further job cuts
The unions do not believe that steps should be taken to reduce jobs whilst we still await the results of the important Probation Systems Review which will be seeking to address the underperformance of CRC contractors. I have made it clear at Ministerial level that despite our misgivings over TR, we expected to see genuine attempts at innovation and new opportunities for our members to improve services to clients and see their skills utilised to turn lives around as opposed to them being thrown on the employment scrapheap. If WL and other contractors cannot deliver what they purchased then they ought to give serious consideration to handing the keys back to the MoJ.
The foregoing indicates why it is important to stick with or join Napo and be part of our campaign against further job cuts in Working Links. Please await further news after Napo’s AGM in Cardiff (there is still time to register) and next weeks combined union meeting.
Yours in solidarity
Napo General Secretary