Thursday, 13 October 2016

CRC Dispute - Latest 5

Here we have part of a significant mailout to Napo members in the South West yesterday and as always I'm grateful to the reader for forwarding it to me. I've not included the correspondence referred to in order to keep this post to a reasonable length, but will endeavour to publish it in subsequent posts.

Branch report Redundancies Dispute to National Joint Secretaries 15

12 10 16
Dear members,

1. Apologies I had wanted to prepare a redundancy report and comparison chart for the situation that we are facing across the board as Management or employers Aurelius and their operatives Working Links start to unfold the further decline of your terms and conditions with their plans on the work you do and the rewards and protections we own as a matter of contract.

2. This report is due to coincide with the Joint Secretaries determination expected out this week. I will not be holding much hope for anything more than some fudging as they all try to assist the contract operator to get things right, instead of the sort of failing discussions that we have experienced. These never involve negotiation. Indeed we never see any form of agreement either. More importantly the minimal non existent approach to any recognition in writing. Napo assert they do not actually want to engage in a written process that illustrates they have liabilities under the contract. I was and remain concerned, as apologies were made by the contracts management group of MOJ. These are people who are there to ensure contract compliance. Something we do not think is managed well by Aurelius \Working Links operatives. Having failed to pitch up for the Joint Secretaries meeting, ironically most of the contentions are related to planned failures to honour the contract. We do hope they get this sorted before a formal reply is made.

3. Attached to this report is a copy of the submission that was prepared for the Joint Secretaries on the 5 10 16 of which the regional Union reps presented and took questions in part. Some of that exercise was not helped on the timing limitations although we know Working Links had longer within the joint secretaries meeting than our side. There was no way of monitoring the activity from our point of view, so we come away with some mixed views and more concerns. Nevertheless also attached to the document that you should read is a snapshot of correspondence that in the main was never responded to formally by the employers. Actually when it was just Working Links The Company. Now Aurelius.

4. Much of our dispute is about the contractual failings of the employers, now, Aurelius acting through Working Links the company. The issue of their failings to honour both the process and the terms within the redundancy policy while issuing the section 188 notices giving warning of impending and most certainly compulsory dismissals. Within the discussions there have been half hearted statements that no staff will be compulsorily dismissed, yet they have kept on recruiting staff while not freezing posts. Most of the points I would want to remind members of are captured in the submission document. The points are clear and the Aurelius Working Links intentions are now absolute in their recent offer of severance. Also by their intentions and foolhardy claims to want to review the current redundancy agreement not yet fully understanding their obligation to honour the terms of their contracted. As we state well protected in the detail of the agreements and the contracts they have to honour to each and every staff members employed at the time of transfer.

5. Members are being invited to resign effectively. This is called severance. Whatever it is called it remains a disingenuous attempt to steal your terms and value that your contract of employment protected by the staff transfer arrangements agreements have been put in place to do. Effectively we are making all claims under a direct breach of contract where they occur. As yet members keep in mind Aurelius operatives are offering a VOLUNTARY award. If members volunteer that is a matter for them but we could not assist you in that process.

6. In line with Mr Hindson invitation to share with all staff our correspondences with the unions and employers (and I suspect they may well regret that decision) Napo share this snapshot of letters for your reading too. Please read them and file them as these illustrate that all of the consultation has been dysfunctional by the employer and any decisions they make have no agreement by you or your representatives.

7. In the battle for hearts and minds that Aurelius and operatives of Working Links have now pitched asking you to decide we in Napo do not think that will be a difficult choice.

8. I will be reporting as soon as I get the Joint Secretaries findings and also on the latest battle update from the attacks on the current protected DDC redundancy policy.

9. In the meantime next branch meeting is in Poole Dorset please make sure you attend it is set to be a heavy day of questions given the recent few days of telephone calls and e-mails. Join NAPO if you are reading this and not in NAPO. Please distribute as wide as you can to ensure all staff have some balance to what is being done.

Dino Peros SSW Branch Chair JNCC Rep
Denice James SSW Branch JNCC Rep


Joint secretaries Dispute Working Links DDC and regional Presentation 5 10 16  

⦁ The DDC JNCC reps have been engaged formally with the senior management since October 2015 in discussing reorganisation and staff redundancies, in line with the legal obligation to consult meaningfully with the recognised trade unions. Negotiations could have continued informally through short sides but management did not convene them. 

⦁ During the early part of discussions the HR Professional was replaced by Dianne Powel the employee of another CRC. Her new and controversial position is still fraught with concern over legitimacy and authority.

⦁ Mr Wiseman had not understood the need to work towards consensus and agreement. In meetings the minutes of the JNCCs were obviously very different from the discussions. The draft minutes were never promptly issued and always when produced were at short notice. So much of the JNCC time was occupied with accuracy and checking minutes that were often 2 or 3 meetings old. Memory and notes took a lot of correction. Meetings were now electronically recorded as the union could not and did not trust the recording of minutes from notes. Meetings are inappropriately scheduled for a period of 2 hours and this inhibits negotiations. 

⦁ Meetings became an attempt to inform the TU side than consult or negotiate. 

⦁ Regional meetings never saw any commitment or detailed outcome. What has felt common to all the JNCC is that the approach and the disconnection from any dialogue had a real impact on the role we have as officials. 

⦁ The formal notices of the S188 marked as precautionary have been regarded seriously by the unions. Indeed the biggest issue has been a notice of dismissals on the one hand by the continued issuing of the S 188, there being at least 4 now. The first was blank, the second had some loose figures, and the third had the greater regions of number, and the fourth was an additional feature of the Finances as a reason for the terminations. The others cited Reorganisation as the reason for redundancies. As information was provided there was no link to adjusting the S188 appropriately to reflect their claimed changes. Further that the documents were inaccurate in many ways. Despite many requests and in writing, these have never been withdrawn.

⦁ The relations soured greatly when the refusal by Mr Hindson and indicated by Mr Wiseman that the areas would not continue to operate the agreement forged by the national employers staff protections and transfer agreements. This meant reduced awards for their plan to dismiss staff. This has now been advanced through early notices served on all staff in the form of WL news updates and the notice of cuts likely by an imposed series of 1-1 interviews. 

⦁ The terms of reference for the selection criteria for staff dismissals has not been consulted upon with any meaningful dialogue or appropriate meetings, time, and facilities arrangements for the unions to do any meaningful work. It made little difference as they intend to impose them and order a withdrawal from the NNC terms, something else that is in 
direct breach of the Transfer protections agreement. 

⦁ The unions offer the staff transfer agreement compels employers to amalgamate the best of the regions’ policies into harmonised approach. This should work towards mitigating redundancies by compulsory means, that they follow an appropriate and agreed redundancy policy, set out terms already agreed in DDC which has its prescribed terms of reference. We are concerned the employer continues to recruit to posts ignoring the recruitment freeze that should exists while filling temporary and permanent posts. The unions concerns extended to the risk of staff losing posts to the risk of redundancy based on geography office closures and no agreed redeployment discussions or written arrangements. Additionally the unions are concerned that the management did not fully investigate ways in which the impacts of redundancies could be mitigated for example, that early retirement on a non discriminatory basis is put out to all volunteers without detriments to their current and best of terms agreements. In DDC EVR scheme is understood as the life of the contract.

⦁ Throughout the process there have been difficulties in conducting proceedings as outlined in the DDC CRC Redundancy Policy. Reference to the status of this policy is fixed by the National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Agreement which protects existing collective agreements at the point of transfer for the life of the contract. In this instance it is fixed for 7 years.

⦁ Given that this was known at the time of the share transfer it is reasonable to assume that WL were aware of this commitment and that they would have budgeted for the cost of this.

⦁ Although WL instigated an additional body with additional meetings, they have failed to comply with the principles of the National Agreement which states that agreements will be harmonised upwards. In fact they have proceeded on the basis that they are not required to abide by this requirement.

⦁ Both the DDC CRC Redundancy Agreement and the ACAS best practice set out to the processes to be adopted. These have not been implemented by Working Links. For example, the basic requirements of consultation have not been used. They have failed to make appropriate arrangements for consultation with the trade unions. In particular they have not provided information in a timely manner, and in some instances have not provided information at all, despite several requests. This is information that is essential to collective bargaining on the restructuring.

⦁ There have been ongoing queries regarding the identity of the employer. Working Links have been reluctant to provide necessary information on this point. This issue is further confused by the recent purchase of WL by Aurelius.

⦁ Early on, Working Links claimed that they had held workshops with various interested parties and stakeholders to consult them on their plans. We have requested details of these workshops which have not been forthcoming. It is a matter of concern to us that these events were held to consult on plans that to this day have not been shared with us.

⦁ Throughout the process to date, there has been insufficient or no information provided about staffing plans as their budget changes. Nor has there been consultation about the introduction of changes in working practices. Similarly there has been no discussion about new jobs, job descriptions, or appropriate job evaluation of these jobs, let alone with a view to reaching an agreement. In fact much of the information received by the trade unions has come from their members who are concerned and some of them feeling under threat.

⦁ The trade unions require details of the employers cash reserves and budgetary explanations, and that these are properly laid out for scrutiny to justify the claims of redundancies. At no stage has this information been provided to date.

⦁ In addition to this, the trade unions also require that the budget allocated for dismissals is accurately illustrated and when the decisions were made. This information is in line with good practice and needed for the purpose of collective bargaining and good industrial practice.

⦁ The trade unions have made numerous requests at meetings and in writing regarding business and financial planning including workload controls, staffing levels, and other budgets such as accommodation. These have not been forthcoming. There has also been a failure to inform the trade union side of changes or rationale as these situations change.

⦁ There is little evidence of workforce planning, no demographic analysis of natural wastage. An Equality Impact Assessment has been produced which is clearly not fit for purpose. None of the information mentioned in this paragraph has been shared or discussed with the trade union side. The EIA was rejected and guidance from BIS was forwarded to WL HR, and no more has been heard from them. 

⦁ Where documents have been provided, it has always been at very short notice. At one meeting, significant and dense documents were provided on the morning of the meeting when the trade unions had to wait whilst they were photocopied during time set aside for the meeting. These are documents that required reading, understanding and discussion amongst others.

⦁ In addition to this, there have been two promises by management of sufficient additional time off arrangements to be made in order to address these further duties and responsibilities. None of this has been forthcoming, and this inhibits the trade union representatives in their ability to carry out their roles.

⦁ There is no evidence of a conscientious consideration of the views and feedback from the trade union side by Working Links.

⦁ To date they have failed to respond to numerous pieces of correspondence from trade unions raising serious concerns.

⦁ There have been occasions when conflicting information and advice has been given out by Working Links. This has caused concern and distress across the staff in DDC. For example, NAPO complained that a series of 1 to 1 meetings were being organised by local managers with individual members of staff. WL gave assurances that these were informal meetings. However, conflicting advice was given to the managers conducting the meetings impressing on them the need to keep detailed notes which must be signed by the member of staff as these notes would have legal implications.

⦁ It is apparent that the appropriate Health and Safety aspects regarding the changes to be introduced have not been acknowledged or attempted to be implemented. There has been no consultation with Trade Union H&S representatives regarding planning for change of buildings, risk assessments, etc. Many serious concerns have been raised with us by members on these issues.

⦁ The GS has written his own concerns in correspondences to the Innovation Wessex clearing house and as yet still no adequate assurance or verification of their independence. Despite several claims there is no account for the IW being independent. 

⦁ The recent attempt to adjust the voluntary grounds for leaving provides no reasonable choices for staff wanting to exit and in fact will cost individuals more under the terms suggested. 

⦁ If the conduct of Working Links and the companies associated owners Aurelius fail to agree to the terms laid out in the contractual responsibilities the trade unions will have to explore all legal avenues to ensure compliance to staff and union agreements in contracts and pursue costs for all cases either group action or individual.



It's interesting to note that all this is going on at a time when the Financial Times yesterday said the following:- 

UK probation deals are failing, say providers

Companies say they were given misleading figures when bidding for £3.7bn contracts. Almost every contract to provide probation services in England and Wales is lossmaking, according to the companies that bid for them two years ago when the system was privatised.

The government part-privatised its probation service in 2014, awarding £3.7bn of contracts to companies including Sodexo of France, MTCnovo of the US, Ingeus of Australia and Staffline, Interserve and Working Links of the UK to oversee 200,000 medium and low-risk offenders. But the companies say the contracts are lossmaking and unsustainable because their bids were based on incorrect assumptions from the Ministry of Justice. The companies complain that the contracts overstated the number of offenders they would manage, suggesting their income would be higher. The number of community-based penalties declined from 40,805 between January and March 2014 to 35,892 in the same period in 2016.

“If it is not fixed it will be a disaster,” one provider said. “It is fine for the big companies with strong balance sheets but some of the smaller players are really struggling.” Talks to renegotiate the terms between the companies and the ministry since January have stalled and at least one provider has threatened to pull out. “All our energy is going into working this out,” said one manager at a company providing probation services. “If you are 15 to 30 per cent down on business that will mean having to reduce staff and that will have a knock-on effect on our ability to reduce reoffending. To say it’s a cock-up is an understatement.”

Several companies said they plan to cut jobs and close local offices, undermining the government’s promise that the privatisation would lead to a “rehabilitation revolution”.


  1. The CRC piece is densely written, bit of a word salad in places, making it hard to follow the arguments. There is a need for clear and concise communication if you want to get your message across and members onside.

    1. It is easy to criticise. The Union is fighting to protect terms and conditions. Well done to Napo SSW and its Chair.

    2. I don't think it was written with members in mind and most likely not for remarks like we read from the Moron at 0516 lack of sleep make you tetchy dear? I could follow the arguments reasonably well and could understand the document is a bulletin. Perhaps we might have a marks system keep the critics of do nothing at bay.

    3. Bit harsh that 15:02. I didn't read 05:16s comment as being critical of anything, just an observation really. Using words like moron I feel just devalues your own comment.

    4. 5.16 you obviously have no idea of the work and pressure involved in protecting members rights so fervently as this chair is doing. Aim yiur critisicm where it belong at the employers or are you a management stooge ?

    5. I'm neither, nor was I aiming any criticism, simply saying that I thought the way you responded to a comment, that I thought was more observational then one of criticism could have been done in a less aggressive and less offensive manner.
      If you respond to this comment, perhaps you might explain why you choose to use such vocabulary as "moron" and choose to be so aggressive with your tone?
      I personally see no need for it, but I'm also open minded enough to consider why you choose to use the language that you do.

    6. 20.33, it really is quite pathetic that any point made that isn't adoring is attributed to nefarious forces. Is this really the probation mindset?

    7. 20.33. I do know the pressures: I was very involved in my branch. And I know the importance of clear communications. Comments of moron are so degenerate and depressing. Moron really is a disgusting word on a par with the N word and C word and so forth.

    8. 21:41 No you do not know the pressures what have you done on par with what is being fought out in the SSw dispute. Lead yourself the way to another cup of tea and a biscuit. No point in changing the issue either its an M word plain and simple nothing to do with your slight to other subjects.

    9. How full of your own importance are you Nepolien? Ignorant, offensive and just bloody rude. A bit of a bully too I'd wager.

    10. Arhhh there there. Calm down. Napoleon complement.

  2. I see that two of the characters on the employer's side – Hindson and Wiseman – are also fellows of the probation institute. You know things have reached a sad impasse when there is no trust that minutes of meetings will be accurately produced and you end up having to record them electronically.

    The probation institute have expressed 'concern' about staff conditions of service and yet two of its fellows are at the forefront of an assault on those very conditions. No cognitive dissonance for those two fine gentlemen.

    1. Probation Officer13 October 2016 at 20:04

      The Probation Institute is part of the problem. It endorses the individuals and organisations responsible (past and present) for running probation into the ground.

    2. I hear kent Surrey Sussex CRC is offering to pay their staffs membership to the institute.

  3. Lord Faulks' comments in the House of Lords from March 2014 (Hansard):

    ""It is difficult to understand why there is apparently—so the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, says—discontent among the staff, because a deal has been negotiated with the unions. We have been undertaking negotiations with probation trade unions and the employers’ representatives over a national agreement for staff transfer that will protect the terms and conditions of staff transferring to the CRCs or the NPS. Probation trade unions and the Probation Association, which represents trusts, ratified the national agreement on staff transfer on 29 January 2014. Trade unions have also withdrawn all local trade disputes. The national agreement offers a very good deal for existing staff, and demonstrates our commitment to fairness by going much further than we are legally required to do. Staff will transfer to the new probation structures with their existing terms and conditions in place. The additional protections set out within the agreement include a guarantee of employment in the new probation structures from 1 June 2014, no compulsory redundancies for a period of seven months following share sale and an enhanced voluntary redundancy period of up to 67.5 weeks. Alongside our negotiations, the programme has put in place a dedicated consultative forum for effective engagement with trade unions and employers’ representatives. We will continue to engage closely with trade unions and employers throughout the transition to the new probation structure.""

    Sadly this harmonious detail was ignored when Sodexo behaved so disgracefully but hopefully neither Napo nor Noms/MoJ will let it slip by unnoticed this time and they will therefore finally demonstrate their "commitment to fairness".

    Oh look! A squirrel!

    1. Always useful to be reminded of the national agreement, which Sodexo ignored and is now being described as not fit for purpose by the employers, a position the Napo leadership – a mere two years after signing and heralding the agreement – sought to adopt until rebuffed at the AGM.

    2. Lol. The squirrel joke was an unnecessary distraction :)

    3. Was it ever resolved that EVR was for lifetime of contract? Legal implications? Legal get around, what are they? I always thought Sodexo made a mistake by riding around EVR from perspective of employee relations with employer. They would doubtless argue that their approach meant greater sustainability for the 'business'. Again fragmentation of Probation Service a huge error. A unified service would be better able to retain and redeploy.

    4. The Lord Faulks: "The national agreement offers a very good deal for existing staff, and demonstrates our commitment to fairness by going much further than we are legally required to do. Staff will transfer to the new probation structures with their existing terms and conditions in place...."

      ... Unless the CRC owners can wriggle out of it using vile bullying tactics whilst the unions sit & make gestures, Noms/MoJ (who claim to be policing the contracts) say nothing and the PI (of which CRC senior management are key figures) pretend it isn't happening.

      'Chapeau!' to Dino for not letting go of the stick. I hope he tears them a new arsehole. Good luck.

  4. I was surprised to read the FT article yesterday, especially as it wasn't on the back of any particular event or incident. It was more the providers whinging, it was a straight forward accusation, the government misled us and sold us a pup. I expected more to be said in today's more 'lowbrow' press, but not a mention. So why yesterday and why the FT?
    I have no idea really, but it leads to a lot of head scratching and pondering. It could be perhaps that the providers (especially with the working links saga posted above), that maybe the providers are arguing both ends, to create a space where they can simply step away from the contract with minimal penalty, or better still, have the government take the contracts back?
    I get the feeling that TR is being spoken about very seriously in quite little rooms in Whitehall at the moment, and not just on this blog.


    1. I don't understand why the companies are complaining. Surely an axiom of the marketplace is buyer beware, as the value of stocks and shares can go up – and down.

    2. After the split we were told by MTC novo that they were not allowed by moj to speak to to staff in advance of making their bid or signing the contract. I wondered then what other aspects of probation they were not allowed to look at. I could never understand why a company would want to have dealings with someone who like MOJ would not be up front about what was being done a deal over. It seems utterly reckless. Why would a company take risks with its investment in that way?

  5. Well done Dino and NAPO SSW and good to them standing up to Working Links. Oh to have capable Union officials in Wales standing up to WL!

    1. I think this somewhat unfair. The current dispute is between WL and all their CRC's - DDC, BGSW and Wales. DDC are more prominent perhaps because they communicate more often with their members.

    2. Oh really !your having a laugh.

  6. That last paragraph is so welcome because what it does more than anything is say to those of is who were critical of the while debacle from the start that we were right to be sceptical, right to criticise and right to resist. It also says to those who engineered the farce that they were wrong, they should have listened and they are guilty of the most astonishing incompetence. Those of us who are no longer in the middle of the mess have built new lives for ourselves away from the Probation coalface; just as well as the roof is collapsing.

  7. Well done to the guys that have taken on Working Links. It's a shame this wasn't done with Sodexo. Other CRCs will be watching to see what happens.

    1. Watching never won battles, standing up and fighting for our rights like Dino is doing is what members should be doing. Its a farce the MOJ agreed the contractual transfer arrangements and NOMS their executive body are the villains trying to walk away from those agreements and tear up our terms. No severance thats where it went wrong in the north. Dino is a strong leader in the West, he is not about to back down and roll over to these vultures.

    2. Dino at the coalface. Wake me up when he has actually achieved something, because so far it's only talk and he's good at that.

    3. Must be a manager 21:30 and as usual so wrong.

    4. 21.30 -your comment is quite ridiculous. Limits imposed to how trade unions operate have removed the option of immediate walkouts/speedy outcomes etc. Trust me if this had been available I suspect most of DDC would have left the building weeks ago. Union activity has in many ways been reduced to protracted negotiations, lines drawn in the sand, coupled with a stalwart determination not to budge on first principles that are the bedrock of employee rights. This is where we are - but all this takes time to establish. Dino is 'at the coalface' putting considerable effort into fighting on our behalf. We WILL get a result, because in SSW we are not backing down. The Branch is 100% behind Dino.

  8. A reflective journal note from 2014. ‘TRP has been a learning experience for me. It is clear that adapting to change is a necessary part of the professionals’ toolkit. I think the experience and particularly the opportunity to reflect on that experience will leave me better placed to manage change, there is a sense that you draw on your values, look to what is important, ask why you do what you do. There is a part of me that thinks that being a good professional should not necessarily be about being malleable, values should not be an excuse for rolling over and blindly accepting new directions, and to this extent there are channels to influence and if necessary protest against change or aspects of it. It has also reinforced for me the idea that … managers and professionals need to look beyond their own needs and consider the needs of others and the organisation. I do not think there is much I would have done differently, overall I maintained a high level of professionalism, there were a few occasions where a touch of cynicism or incredulity crept into my lexicon … but these were good humoured and were more than tempered by a forward looking, positive approach. I think the experience will leave me more resilient in future, I along with many of my colleagues have felt very sad and let down by what has happened and to an extent that has impacted on our well-being. In my opinion we need to celebrate our achievements, refocus on our values and set our sights on helping to deliver on our service mission within what will be an emerging new reality for Probation Services. Or, maybe take our talents elsewhere.’

    1. A self-indulgent reverie. Tell it to the prison staff and probation staff who are seeing their numbers reduced. It's about resources and staff being valued by the government.

    2. Well said. Also to add being valued means having contractual rights respected.

    3. Possibly. However we have all been on a journey through these changes and I was interested to note how I was trying to make senses of things a few years ago any thought some value in sharing. But of course resources and staff being valued is a huge issue.