Tuesday, 18 October 2016

CRC Dispute - Latest 7

Here we have a joint statement from Napo, Unison and GMB:-

For distribution to all trade union members across the three Working Links owned Community Rehabilitation Companies

No to Job Cuts...yes to fair play for staff.. Probation trade unions standing up for you!

18 October 2016

DISPUTE LATEST - ACAS asked to intervene

Last week saw the issue of an interim determination by the National Negotiating Council Joint Secretaries following the oral and written evidence that was presented to them by the parties to the dispute at a meeting held on 5th October.

The Joint Secretaries observations (attached) raise some serious questions about the underlying aspects of the dispute and recognise the fact that industrial relations have reached an impasse. It is therefore no surprise that a key recommendation in the determination is that the parties agree to urgently meet with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to explore whether a resolution of the dispute can be reached.

At the time of writing we understand that a senior ACAS Conciliator has been assigned to the case and that attempts are underway to contact all parties to see if an initial meeting can be convened later this week to map out a series of further meetings where the parties can attempt to find common ground.

What this dispute is about

Whilst the probation unions are fully prepared to enter discussions that can be brokered by ACAS, we thought it would be helpful to again spell out to our members (and prospective members) why we have had to lodge a formal dispute with the three CRC employers concerned.

Job cuts and voluntary redundancy: The unions have made it clear that we oppose the concept of further staff reductions as we remain unconvinced that they are justified. The unions are also concerned that the operational model Working Links are trying to construct is unproven and represents a risk to the safety of staff, clients and the public.

Nevertheless, the probation unions have made it repeatedly clear, despite the employers intention to press ahead with their staff reduction programme, we are insisting that the option of enhanced voluntary redundancy must be promoted across all three CRCs in order to see what impact this might have on staff currently in post. We have also urged Working Links to instruct their CRC's to seek serious expressions of interest from all staff for EVR so that some informed modelling could be undertaken whilst issues about future WAV volumes and funding are confirmed between the CRC owners and NOMS.

Pay up on EVR: as we have consistently pointed out, without the above steps being taken the unions cannot be seriously expected to countenance a reduction in EVR terms when some staff have already been awarded full packages.

The replacement of the EVR scheme for an inferior voluntary severance scheme is also unacceptable because:

  • Under the terms of the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement, we do not consider that the employer has demonstrated fair and equal treatment of all staff.
  • The employers have not engaged in transparent, equitable and straightforward processes relating to re-organisation.
  • That they have not ensured that unions are properly consulted with and kept informed of plans to reduce the workforce to a so called end state by 31st March which is essentially the locus of this dispute.
  • The existing redundancy policy within DDC CRC does not allow for a variation of the terms for voluntary redundancy and we expect this to be the benchmark across the whole of the Working Links CRC estate. We have offered the support of our local reps in working to a harmonised redundancy policy and this remains on the table. Instead we are now seeing arbitrary attempts to force through changes in each CRC's policies while a dispute is in existence.
  • It is the fault of the contractor that they have failed to adequately take account of their obligation to understand and recognise the express terms and conditions of their potential workforce that were made known to them in the pre-share sale process.
  • The employers continuing refusal to withdraw the Section 188 notices which we believe will allow CRC employers to rely on in future as justification for commencing a formal period of consultation over compulsory redundancy.
  • The failure by the employer to agree to any moratorium or period of reflection to reconsider the current staff reduction proposals in light of the Probation System Review.
  • The lack of additional funding from Aurelius the new owners of Working Links whilst the possibility of new ventures are promoted amongst staff in fear of their livelihoods. We again reiterate our request to meet with members of the Aurelius senior management team so that we can be convinced about the availability of funding to avoid unnecessary job cuts.
Join a trade union now!

The dispute between the Working Links/Aurelius CRCs and the probation unions is about protecting jobs and public safety and ensuring that if some jobs have to be lost then individuals are entitled to the same compensation as already paid to other staff. This, and many more reasons, illustrate why it is more important than ever that staff across the three CRC's belong to a trade union.

More news will be issued to members at the earliest opportunity but the above statement has been issued by the probation trade unions to confirm our position as a response to misleading announcements issued by senior Working Links management.


National Negotiating Council for the Probation Service
Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades

Employers’ Side Secretary: Francis Stuart 

6th Floor 
Clive House
70 Petty France
London SW1P 3LW

Trade Union Side Secretary: Ian Lawrence
4 Chivalry Road
London SW11 1HT

SCCOG/GMB Joint Secretary: David Walton

14 October 2016

Paul Hindson Working Links
Dianne Powell HR Director Working Links
Dino Peros Napo
Denice James Napo
Pen Gwilliam Napo
Ceris Handley Napo
Rob Robbins UNISON
Glyn Jones UNISON

By e-mail

Dear Colleagues

Dispute between Working Links CRC’s and Probation Trade Unions

Thank you for making the time to meet with the Joint Secretaries on the 5th October to discuss the above dispute and/or making written submissions to us.

We have now had an opportunity to consider the various representations and would wish to make an interim determination as follows.


The Joint Secretaries are aware that the Probation trade unions registered a dispute with Working Links on 28TH June 2016.

This followed months of discussions at Joint Unions and Management level and a number of JNCC’s within the three Community Rehabilitation Companies concerned namely:

  • Devon Dorset and Cornwall
  • Bristol. Gloucester , Somerset and Wiltshire
  • Wales
All three CRC’s were recently acquired by Aurelius but, as far as we can ascertain, continue to be managed by Working Links.

The issues that have given rise to the dispute appear to centre on three key areas. Firstly, the intention of the CRC employers to reduce the staffing profile across the three CRC’s by around 38%, the terms for Voluntary Severance now on offer in place of the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy scheme made available to some existing and former staff, and the level of consultation afforded to the trade unions by the employer under the terms as contained in the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement. Whilst we understand that there has been protracted dialogue between the parties, the Joint Secretaries are concerned that it has taken so long for an approach to be made for our intervention. This has limited the scope for us to intercede as constructively as we would have wished especially given the deterioration in relations between the parties.

Interim determination

1. Given the nature of the exchanges with the parties, the Joint Secretaries are seeking clarification of some issues with the NOMS Commercial Directorate (who were unable to attend the JS meeting.

2. It is abundantly clear that despite the efforts of all parties and for any number of reasons, industrial relations are at an impasse and would benefit from the urgent intervention of a third party in the form of the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS). Given that this possibility has been put to the parties who have signalled their readiness to engage in this process, the Joint Secretaries would recommend Mr John Woods be contacted in order to facilitate matters.

If this route is followed we invite the respective parties to provide a progress report to us by 3rd November for our further consideration.

3. Whilst there are clearly major points of disagreement between the parties the Joint Secretaries believe that all parties appeared to be genuinely committed to reaching an agreed position if at all possible. The Joint Secretaries would therefore recommend that the CRC employers make reasonable and structured additional facility time available (and workload relief) to enable local Napo, Unison and GMB representatives to take part in these further talks and subsequent engagement between the parties with the position being reviewed at the end of March. If ACAS intervention is agreed we strongly recommend that talks are convened with the utmost urgency with the parties acknowledging that these may need to take place within an intensive timetable.

4. The Joint Secretaries have examined the written exchanges between the parties and the oral representations that were made to us, and would recommend that the following key issues should be factored in to ensure a fully informed process. We commend the fact that there is an existing ‘issues log’ which tracks the key aspects at large in the dispute. This should be updated where appropriate and reissued to all parties (including ACAS, if the parties agree to use this approach) no later than 7 days from the date of this letter to assist the dialogue. The parties may also bring such additional documentation as they see as relevant to the attention of ACAS.

- The rationale for the proposed job reductions and their connection with the current operational model and the implications of any potential contractual changes that may follow as a result of the Probation Systems Review;

- Full and open dialogue over the issue of client and staff and public safety in terms of the Operational Model.

- The rationale as to why the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme that has already been made available to a number of employees in the three CRC’s concerned is no longer available, and the implications of the recent offer by the employers across each of the three CRC’s of an alternative Voluntary Severance scheme on lesser terms;

- In this respect the Joint Secretaries believe it would assist the discussions if the employers’ refrain from committing agreement to any of the existing applications for Voluntary Severance until further dialogue has taken place as suggested.

- Consideration of the potential equality and demographic outcomes of planned staff reductions by whatever route, especially in relation to the gender aspects.

- Clarification of the exact terms of any early retirement scheme that may be offered.

- Clarification of the status of the Section 188 notices that were served on the trade unions which are clearly a major point of contention within the dispute

- How the parties may put in place a structured and formalised joint approach to avoiding compulsory redundancies by considering invoking the existing redundancy policies and the Management of Change protocols contained therein We note that the employer in the DDC CRC has recently signalled an intention to review the existing compulsory redundancy policy. We also note that the trade unions are unwilling to engage in this discussion whilst a dispute exists, this is an unhelpful situation and the Joint Secretaries suggest that in accordance with our suggestion at paragraph 2 above, that this additional impasse be factored into third party discussions.

- How the parties may be able to facilitate a resumption of local JNCC’s and the Joint Union and Management Forum

We are hopeful that the foregoing represents a constructive agenda which will facilitate the forthcoming dialogue. We wish the parties well in the deliberations to come and remain available to assist if necessary.

Yours sincerely

Francis Stuart
Ian Lawrence
David Walton

NNC/SCCOG Joint Secretaries

Cc Ben Priestley, UNISON
John Woods ACAS
Natalie Sands NOMS Contract Directorate


  1. The comment about the £Billions of public money spent on the "troubled families unit" & associated Government spin sounds like it could apply to TR:

    "perfect case study of how the manipulation and misrepresentation of statistics by civil servants and politicians led to bad policy making and the wasting of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money."

    1. Daily Telegraph today:-

      The government's £400million "troubled families" programme did not have any "significant or systematic impact" on improving the lives of those it was supposed to turn around, an official report has found.

      The report, which was published last night, found that families who were on the programme were no more likely to find jobs, stop claiming benefits or improve the school attendance of their children.

      It said: "Our analysis found no impact on these outcomes attributable to the programme, with observed outcomes for the Troubled Families Programme families being very similar to the outcomes for a matched comparison group of families.

      "The vast majority of impact estimates were statistically insignificant, with a very small number of positive or negative results.

      "The separate analysis using survey data also found no significant or systemic impact on outcomes related to employment, job seeking, school attendance, or anti-social behaviour."

      The report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) used data from a quarter of the families that took part in the progrmame.

      It found the programme had no impact on the proportion of families who claimed unemployment benefit, nor on the prevalence of criminal activity. There was only a marginal difference in school truancy.

      The troubled families programme was unveiled by David Cameron in August 2011 in the wake of the London riots in a bid to "put rocket boosters" under plans to turn around "neighbours from hell".

      It was previously claimed that the scheme "turned around" the lives of 98.9 per cent of the families involved.

      Since receiving the the Government has since launched a second wave of the programme targeting a further 400,000 families at a cost of £90million.

      The findings come just two days after the Communities Minister, Lord Bourne, praised the programme for "transforming the lives of thousands of families".

      He wrote: "We know that more than 116,000 of the families who participated in the first phase of the programme have seen significant improvements in their lives, with children back in school for a year, reduced youth crime and anti-social behaviour, and adults holding down a job."

    2. Interesting reading around troubled families programme. Doubtless well intentioned programme albeit some pejorative Tory tough love messages as opposed to soft social work to turn lives around kind of lingo. But also another example of how not to do it government Minister approach (reminded me of Grayling). But then also a reminder that it is not just our profiteers who can be creative with their claims when there is money sloshing around, cash strapped councils too. Is it fair to say that the programme was a £400,000,000 bonfire with no discernible benefits?

  2. Probation Officer18 October 2016 at 18:09

    I don't think any union can stop job cuts. If they could we'd still have fully manned Woking mines!

  3. There is no dispute apparently because working links are only asking for voluntary severance not compulsory. Their words not mine.

    1. There is already a queue apparently

    2. Exactly what working links are saying but does it add up and who is checking?

    3. They've clearly taken tips from Sodexo

  4. How much is all of this jolly banter & formal pontificating costing both sides? If I were ACAS I'd be asking why Lurking Winks can't just pay the existing EVR to those eligible & who want to go, & have done with it? The loss of PO staff shouldn't be an issue as wholly different roles are waiting to be filled by new eager beavers, and it sounds like admin roles will simply be contracted into existing provision. So let them do it, pay off those who've had enough, then stand back whilst it turns to shite under their noses. Unlike the SodOffCo experience, 35% of an unhappy workforce could be set free with a decent payoff in time for Xmas. Just sayin'...

  5. They can't pay any further EVR because according to them it has all been accounted for and the pot is now empty! Freedom of infornation act request may be needed to prove this!

    1. So the crc fokkers have already spent the £80M sweetener of public monies? What a surprise!

  6. Tonight's bbc2 jacques peretti programme is revealing. Give it a whirl on whatever watch-it-again platform you can. The term "transformation" is well-defined & JP reveals the wholesale theft of public funds by private sector 'management consultants'. It helps put TR in context!

  7. It's not just the CRC's. In the NPS there is a PSO recruitment drive and these unqualified staff will take on all low and medium risk offenders. This means the vast majority of qualified probation officers will soon be sent to the elephants graveyard. Napo/unions have not done anything about this!!!

    1. So the CRC's will soon have more qualified PO's than the NPS. Wasn't it meant to be the other way around?

    2. The NPS is "qualifying" PSO's by requiring they complete an easy to answer online course. Today helped a bunch of resistant Court PSO's and very young looking newly recruited PSO's struggling with the early-learning-entry-level-minus-zero answers. Bless em' for trying but God help all the sex offenders, dv offenders, prolific offenders and lifers they'll be supervising.

    3. They can have my PO job I'm desperate to go the NPS don't value POs or recognise the skills they deploy every day if I was in a position to do so I would rather volunteer for free for an organisation that has better values

    4. The PSOs that have arrived in our office are unbelievable we are all govsmacked at the recruitment don't know how they can become fully functioning OMs in a few weeks taking complex cases god help us all ! Risk management is greatly underestimated at the moment

    5. What on earth do you mean 21.25?' Pso's will take on all low and medium cases in nps'NPS only work with high to very high risk offenders or do i thought! Or do you mean the sex offenders who are with nps but classed as medium risk? Bloody ridiculous situation if you ask me!

    6. Er no. NPS has low to high risk offenders. Many Mappa offenders are medium risk. This includes those subject to suspended sentences and registered sex offenders. This also includes offenders where the risk has reduced from high risk. The E3 policy is that all offenders assessed as low and medium risk will be supervised by PSO's. That is bloody ridiculous if you ask me!

  8. And the public, who we are supposed to be protecting! The PSOs who gave turned up at our office look like they have just come from school. Very concerning, the sex offenders and d/v perpetrators will run rings round them. This is the future, young lasses, not a clue, not going to cause a stir and will work for peanuts. The 'Professionalism' is being list at a rapid pace. Why the bloody hell are you letting this happen Ian Lawrence? Collusion is clearly in the air. Hope you are enjoying your pay off

  9. And now the sad reality of MoJ/Noms pisspoor prison policy is taking shape. Murder inquiry at HMP Pentonville after multiple stabbings, one dead & two critical. Cuts, inadequate staffing, inexperienced staff... sounds a lot like the probation landscape they've created with TR. Won't be long before the whole henhouse goes bang!

    1. Grayling, his staff, the Tories & Parliament were warned time & time again, but did they listen? And the same with probation. The worst is yet to come, I' m afraid.

    2. In 2014:

      "We're meeting those challenges, we're recruiting more staff. I am absolutely clear there is not a crisis in our prisons," he [Grayling] told the Today programme.

      His comments have met with an angry response from campaigners.

      Bill Waddington, Chair Criminal Law Solicitors Association, said: "Chris Grayling is in a state of unparalleled denial.

      "His ideologically driven programme of justice reform has no grounding in reality.

      "He has shown blatant disregard for the advice of experts and practitioners on almost every issue, from prison reform to legal aid. Make no mistake, this crisis is not one of prisons, but of the entire English justice system."

    3. Also from politics.co.uk in 2014:

      "The number of officers in public sector prisons has been cut by 41% in less than four years, according to new figures obtained by penal reformers.

      The Howard League for Penal Reform used official Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures to show the scale of the cuts hitting the prison service, amid a series of reports warning of a crisis across the estate.

      "The prison system is in crisis, and these figures reveal why. While the prison population has grown, officer numbers have been cut without any thought for the consequences," chief executive Frances Crook said.

      There were only 14,170 officer grade staff working in public sector prisons in June 2014, compared to over 24,000 at the end of August 2010."

    4. Lancashire Evening Post, March 2013:

      "Mr Starkie, chair of the POA’s Preston branch, said: “All prisons are being efficiency benchmarked and the average loss across the board is 15 per cent. Some are going to be more and some are less.”

      Staff across the board, including prison officers, administration staff, and kitchen staff, are expected to be 

      Mr Starkie said: “Jails are unique places and they have their own risks. We think the Government are playing a dangerous game here. Everyone is working for the safety of the public and it is making the risk a bit bigger... It is putting not just the 
officers at risk. This will affect the safety of prisoners and staff, and the public. It is wide ranging.”

      Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said: “We will never do anything to compromise the security and safety of prisons, but we are committed to reducing costs for the taxpayer... Where this means reducing staff numbers, we will work constructively with trade unions to do everything possible to avoid compulsory 

    5. The headline news of more prison stabbings just highlights again and again how disturbing the Prison system has become. We debate and discuss issues within our own service, NPS/CRC post TR, ie piss poor contracts, lack of leadership, E3, where's our EVR gone, ACAS at last being brought in to help ( I did tell you previously) and now new PSO's coming into the fold.
      In line with today's headlines let's just spare a thought for our Prisoners, Prison colleagues, and all grades/staff who work in the establishments around the country as there is another group of prison staff I want to highlight.


      This group are the backbone of any prison estate and yet very little is written or heard about them (as with admin in our Probation/Prison service).
      OSG's who work consistently hard in an environment where they are poorly paid but contribute to the daily running of all of our prisons.
      Their pay is barely £19000 per year and this is where some of the reduction of costs for the taxpayer comes from. Cheaper staff, doing an amazing job and working and supporting Prison Officers who quite frankly are in one of the most dangerous and challenging jobs there is.
      All of you who come on this blog, Google and explore the OSG role, look at when OSG's were implemented, which was a long time before TR. Read what they have to do, the shifts that they work, roles, responsibilities as OSG's do a tremendous job for terrible pay. Some of these OSG's might actually be your new PSO starting in your own teams where I would be giving them the upmost respect.

  10. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/oct/18/one-arrested-after-man-killed-in-pentonville-prison

  11. Sounds like nps are taking on PSOs to manage the crc cases that they deliberately kept for themselves to me. Perverse system!

  12. 9.57 well said and of course i would have respect for a pso who has this level of experience provided of course they have other required qualities to work with offenders in the community. Prisons are going through an appaling time and long over due for a public enquiry. Good that prison staff are also posting on this blog and hopefully more prison staff will share their experiences here. Similar picture in probation, prisons, youth justice, social services, mental health, care sector. How bad does it have to get before the government accept that privatisation is not working? We all need to stick together and get our voices out there. A mass rally of staff from the services above would get the message to government and public thst this problem is across the board. Their privatisation at whatever cost is nit working and probably costing more long term. The human cost cannot be given a value when it is peoples wellfare and lives at risk.

  13. SERCO, CAPITA, AMEY, WORKING LINKS=wasting public money and lining their own pockets..buildings being built and then unused because they are too expensive..staff losing jobs to grow profits...healthy trees cut down to make money when they are perfectly healthy...services run down to bare bones..managers gagged or paid to tow the line..CRAP.=.community rehabilitation at a price!

    1. Dont forget ingeus as well.

  14. I've been shown the BGSW and DDC performance report - service credits all over the shop, and that's before they shed half the operational staff, who are supposedly considered surplus! It'd be a shame if HMIP came a-calling soon, wouldn't it?

    1. what's a service credit? I'm guessing it's a penalty for missing a target?

    2. Can you give more information? Yes, we are struggling as it is abd no way can these cuts be justified other than to provide profits for managers and shareholders!

  15. The South West are very good at standing up for themselves. They deserve around of applause for their fighting spirit! Bravo!!

  16. What's Napo saying about the PSO's being recruited to replace NPS PO's? I figure if PSO's take all the low-medium risk cases then most NPS offices won't need more than 1-2 qualified PO's for the high risk cases. What happens to all the NPS PO's because the CRC's don't want them? As usual Napo will wait till it's too late.