Branch report Redundancies 17+
16th November 2016
Updated 9 12 16
Dear Napo and Unison members,
This branch update report comes in 2 parts as things have been moving at a pace. The report below was delayed in sending out to members to take account of the ACAS situation and because the General Secretary and myself agreed to hold a little longer on the information position because we were scheduling a meeting with the lawyers. It was clear that Working Links continued to play games and have effectively stalled.
Having met in Bristol on the 23 11 in what appeared to us at least to be most of the management team. Their expectations were that we would have to spend the day listening to them presenting in component parts the proposed working model. What a shame they just do not appear able or willing to formally write down in one place and in order their proposal and that submitting them to the unions we should then formally respond. We could then manage all the appropriate checks and consultations process with our members before suggesting amendments or further disagreements.
We are still no further forwards on the model and as any sensible Trade Unions we presented quite properly all Health and safety Agenda requirements. Working Links having admitted to abandoning any committee or consultations on the requirements of your health and safety. No proper assessment on workloads because they openly admitted in direct question they do not have an upper workload limit on caseloads for staff. There is no misquote here these are the incredible facts of the failings and what is likely to beset Working links continued ignorance of what their responsibilities actually are to staff.
While the Unions and the General Secretary continue to wait patiently for any formal response to our serious letters dated the 13 11 and the 24th November both replies being held to ransom by a sulking “we don’t Like It” Working Links. When direct questions were put to Mr Hindson by the General Secretary Ian Lawrence we received a reply and that was duly recorded as you would expect. In closing and to tidy a few points the GS posed the same question only to receive a different emphasis in reply.
By the time the Unions in debrief had checked what was said the change in emphasis was a clear and serious concern to our negotiating side. This was noted in the letter of concerns put to Working Links on the 24th of November. We are now clear that this is never likely to be answered as we subsequently received a letter by e mail on the 5th December stating that Mr Hindson was now on Christmas leave. Mr Wiseman is now to lead on the current situation. This is an interesting position as the question of gardening leave and perhaps a forced early bath for the Working Links lead negotiator? The least said about this passing is perhaps the better part of being politic on that performance. Still there may well yet be another resurrection. What we hope for and if talks are to resume is Mr. Wiseman learns something from the way Working Links board appear to treat their representatives who fail to manage.
The sulking I mentioned above is by way of the refusal to formally reply to Napo unless we withdraw our letter of the 24th what a ridiculous position they adopt. You can draw your own conclusions as to why and what we think from what I have reported.
We are on the record for introducing the legislative requirements contained in the health safety at work act. The management appeared to be blissfully ignorant of their obligations at that point the same could not be said now from correspondence and the ACAS day last attended.
The legal Advice
Members will know that we have all been pressing for a legal position and some clear indications to all Members. You may well recall to get the employers to conduct the consultation process properly we required certain factual information. The situation has been that that Working Links have ignored all written correspondences bar a few and have given the Unions the total run-around. Poor data lack of facts or anything that could constitute a negotiation in order to ensure we could not impact on their plans. No chance to mitigate any staff losses. We have criticised their failings for squandering monies on EVR that should have been opened up equally to all staff to apply. Instead we have this staged nonsense where staff groups have been picked off and differential terms of termination have been offered. Our position is that we are looking carefully and have consulted on the legal position for the differing terms. This inequity is not consistent with the staff protections agreement and there is some good examples of employment appeals tribunals that make the working links position just plain wrong. We will continue with that head of argument for our members who are continually being misled by management. We also wait for the GS to make a further announcement on the legal response once it is received. Just on that point my thanks to all the members who have sent me factual information for the legal position and those documents have also been submitted.
In relation to the Central Arbitration Committee claim this has been passed over now as the position within other aspects of the redundancy process and sections 188 have been identified as much stronger if compulsory redundancies are actually to occur. However given the rush to get out so many members choosing to take severance, an offer not recognised in your terms and conditions is a matter for them. They have been sold well short of their entitlements. On what basis you believe your choices were properly informed or truthful is a matter for those who resigned. However I remind members that we had circulated a series of protections questions and that management had made their response to them. I would encourage anyone feeling deceived by their treatment to take a closer look at the tactics deployed.
The meeting with the lawyers was led by Victoria Phillips. Many staff may well know of Vicky and her considerable history of working with Napo and the wider Union movement. I have pasted her web link on to inform you of the calibre of the legal intellect that Ian Lawrence the General Secretary to act our advocate. The meeting was fast paced robust in parts and some tough reasoning. Yet despite the cut and thrust of some quickly dismissed but hopeful avenues the central themes were brought together and all that we are doing has been well constructed and well founded in the way we have approached the Working Links sham of consultation and zero negotiation. In our concentration of the issues we have a robust position for what we need and shortly that detail will be with us to hold firm. One thing worth a mention is that we will be making efforts to resume as a priority all health and safety sub committee activity and negotiations on health and safety at work legislative requirements in your immediate interest. Encouraged by our legal advice from one of the most experienced legal minds on these matters is nothing short of the best we can get. Taking that advice will be our Union position and despite the low brow rhetoric and clear distortions from the senior management. Anytime where matters impact negatively by compulsion on Union members we will be ready to make the fullest of challenges including all avenues of recourse.
The Branch meeting of the 7th 12
A thank you to Liz French Unison who has been something of an explosion in parts from Unison. I very much appreciate her direct style and level of tenacious engagement. Much refreshing and welcome although Working Links have not enjoyed one part of that. What is sad to report that we have an organisation that has a contract yet they are so far away in a working Trade Union relationships that they have destroyed many opportunities to work productively? It has been their chosen way and so a robust approach is the only position at this time despite their sudden leader change. That said we wait to see what signals we get to the Unions requirements and answers to the correspondence. Also to thank Unison for our joint Trade union meeting at their offices. An explanation for this has already gone out to members. That meeting saw nearly forty members attend from across DDC and we welcomed their support. We were joined by the General Secretary Ian Lawrence by a rousing and contextual telephone conference for a good period. This was welcomed and went well for our members in CP who are clearly angry and defiant to the appalling process that management have attempted to inflict upon them. Also in their attempt to destroying many of their employment terms and entitlements. Reducing their pay and failing to consult and act properly as required by the Amended and restated contract requirements. Job evaluations process and new job descriptions have all by passed the consultative process and members are encouraged by the advice we have issued and has been re issued in recent days. In the meantime members are reminded to reject any 1-1 interviews and just ask the basic question is management going to make the post redundant and then consult properly with my Union. After all that’s what you pay your subscriptions for. It was great to see our Unison colleagues and shop stewards in principled agreement and we have the makings of a strong team to move forward.
From this brief up-date on the current position I have included the previous and as yet unpublished report below for you, so that members are clearer as to where we are for now.
I will be taking a short break myself during this festive period but will be maintaining a watching brief. In both branch interests and leaving my phone on for NAPO members matters. Also keep sending us your concerns and details of the risks issues that you are experiencing and fears from the changes being suggested.
Whatever your choices over the coming periods of the Christmas break Napo Executive wish all our members well whatever you will be doing. Well see you in the new year and continue the process of protections for your jobs terms and well being.
16th November 2016
Dear Napo Members,
It has been a difficult time for us. This is compounded by the ongoing talks at ACAS which are slow moving mainly by the tricks pulled by the contract holders. Hopefully we can start to get into a process that should look to define the legal position for us all. Before that however the route to this requires all sides to engage in conciliation and to look to form some agreement on the issues. After all this is what we, the unions, have complained to the joint secretaries about. That led to the engagement of ACAS, as part of that resolution discovery process.
The conduct and performance of the senior management of Working Links the company and the way in which their incredible negligence towards staff has been managed is something to behold in context of a deliberate and blatant attempts to deprive you from many of your most important employment rights. We had wanted to see a clear change in direction by insisting that Aurelius the new employers pitch up at the ACAS talks and show us clear ownership of their liabilities. Instead we get a recently promoted and current Working links representative in the form of their new finance director. In my view he simply repeated stock phrases he had been fed by Mr Hindson. A fair point that Aurelius had only acquired Working links since the Summer and that he was there to deliver the Bank’s policy of cuts to staffing as the chief finance officer. Also that he could only spare an hour and a half or so (REALLY). Is this to generate profits to a company share group who take monies for doing nothing, while you are expected to forego your redundancy terms sign away your pension entitlements to fund them?
Today 16th November a document by Mr Wiseman DDC in bold italics below where he makes it clear that he has been asked for clarification. I am aware Aurelius’ and working links the company were in a meeting yesterday following on from what they had been told at ACAS. It may be that Aurelius’ people wanted to check the status of our policy and this is what may have triggered the Mr Wiseman document today.
In my view at least this document is nothing more than another poor attempt in the propaganda game. The employers (whoever they are Aurelius or Working Links) want to keep shovelling towards us to scare our members into signing up to the inferior and deceitful process of voluntary severance. This is a matter for you however, we have done and continue to alert you to your employment rights. (If they were not robbing you why use it?)
DDC Redundancy Policy - clarification
I have been asked for clarification re the status of the DDC Local Redundancy Policy and felt it only right and proper to advise all staff of the position as it stands as follows:
The current DDC Redundancy Policy remains unchanged at the time of writing and this can be accessed via the DDC Intranet page.
However, it is also correct to state that this policy is currently under active review and a revised draft local redundancy policy is ready to issue to the local unions for consideration. The Unions were given notice of our intention to review this policy approximately 6 weeks ago and as such this is not new information.
As a local policy this is not enshrined within the NNC agreements and can be amended through local consultation at any time.
The current policy could have been reviewed in September 2015 but for various reasons this review has been delayed until more recently.
I trust this clarifies the position.
Members you will have no doubt read this and it will have raised your concerns. However, many of you will understand it requires relentless effort to collate and record the full archive in order to gather evidence that makes the case for the unions.
Trying to ensure the full protections of terms against the intentions of this hostile contract holder. As they have started in this vein it is reasonable to think they will continue aggressively and most likely get worse. Before then however, we have to stand firm and insist on some basic employment terms to be honoured. This includes
i Rejection of any new job descriptions.
ii Reverting back to your roles from temporary cover
iii Reject the talk of lower pay for work as no proposals have been discussed with the unions.
iv No talks on job evaluations either.
v Do your existing job description and do not agree to any role or job variations that amount to changes in contract.
vi Be alert that dismissals in location and the drafting in by direction of staff from different areas to cover the work is a failure of their staff controls and reduction process.
vii Mobility and direction policies have not been harmonised and these need formal agreement with the Unions before staff are sent all over the place filling in gaps this cutting agenda has started to produce. This will only worsen.
Members who know me well will not be surprised that I am constantly preparing briefings and strategy position on a range of activities. On this matter I am having to cut and paste a strategy document from a recent paper that myself and Ian Lawrence the NAPO General secretary have been working on. It formed part of our ACAS input. The matters were raised and these documents form the spine of our records to issues that have been disclosed within ACAS arena. I have cut and pasted these raw briefings document section 11 which would have been part of my response to Mr Wiseman’s letter of the 10th October. Mr Wiseman’s position today is of no real difference.
Both Napo and Unison Trade Unions leaderships Ian Lawrence and Ben Priestly Unison recommended members sign up to the new twin organisations under the staff transfer and protections agreements. This is what happened and members rightly believed that all our collective terms on pensions and redundancies would be honoured.
As yet it is not clear to me that the originating contracts contained a section that would have encouraged or agreed redundancies with the contractor. However if Compulsory redundancies were part of the original contracts we have the right to see them. Any argument that they are commercially sensitive is a nonsense because Working Links Aurelius have the contract now and commercial sensitivity defence to disclose it, just does not hold water!
Besides this issue we have a right as a Trade Union joint sides to review the commercial contracts because if it is to be discovered that redundancies and to what extent they form the basis of the contract then the Government as the employer in charge at the time would have been required to consult the trades unions at that time. What we need to establish is the failure to consult lawfully and under the terms to mitigating losses. You can see why the contract managers at NOMs MOJ want to swerve this issue.
Members, join us, help us to enforce upon the employers the sections of the agreements that protect you in the examples of their worst practices. We can be adamant to defend your rights to ensure ACAS talks make a breakthrough
- The joint secretaries and the contract managers have finally made a determination on the head of this dispute.
- The employers must see sense and revert to appropriate terms and process to release staff; that they engage the unions properly and openly to get a change agenda that includes and brings staff with them.
- They must engage in a programme of agreed change that ensures an operational model service design that is fully tested to ensure the public is protected.
- Redeployments must be agreed and current pay terms are fully maintained for the duration.
Excerpt From DP Briefing note to ACAS Talks With GS Ian Lawrence. 31 10 16:
What the employers and Mr Wiseman clearly fails to understand here is their obligations under the staff transfer arrangements are a matter of protecting already established local policy. It clearly states this in 16 and makes reference to the protection as laid in the commercial contracts. For ease of reference from the DDC Amended and restated services Agreement section 30.3 (d) The Contractor acknowledges that since the Employee Transfer Date the voluntary redundancy terms (the Voluntary Redundancy Terms) set out in Appendix B to the National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections dated 29 January 2014 (the National Agreement) a copy of which is contained in Part 2 of Schedule 25 to this Agreement have been applied in all cases of voluntary redundancy of Employees (save where more beneficial terms exist). (e) The Contractor shall be entitled to effect voluntary redundancies of Employees from the Employee Transfer Date in accordance with Applicable Law. Other than where more beneficial terms exist, in all cases of voluntary redundancy of Employees the Contractor shall give effect to the Voluntary Redundancy Terms, unless agreed otherwise between the Contractor and Employee. (f) For the avoidance of doubt, in the event that an Employee of a particular Transferor had at the Employee Transfer Date a contractual entitlement to more favourable voluntary redundancy terms than the Voluntary Redundancy Terms, the Contractor will honour those original terms unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Employee. and the Contractor shall continue to comply with the NNC and SCCOG National Agreements on Pay and Conditions of Service for all Employees including the provisions set out in (i) and (ii) above, save to the extent that Employees’ terms and conditions are renegotiated by consent
In simple language members the items in yellow are matters that are the clear intention of the agreement of the ARSA. This is also a contractual obligation on the employers despite their claims they do not agree NAPO interpretation. In any case that is not for the union or employer to determine. The final decision can only be within a legal challenge and we all have a right to take up legal action where we are clearly suffering a detriment by a breach of the expressed contract.
Obviously it is my absolute intention to have these issues challenged on behalf of our members within our Trade Unions activities and through the Employment Tribunal process, although I am confident that we should not have to consider actions wider than our Union at this time.
In relation to where more beneficial terms exist Mr Wiseman is arguing that somehow our beneficial terms are not within another aspect of the National Terms yet appears to fail again to realise, BUT THEY DO EXIST! Therefore they are our beneficial terms aren’t they? They exist as he has made so many formal references to the redundancy policy now as the effective position, he cannot deny it.
Finally members, the sections in red are the single most cruellest trick this employer has attempted to perpetrate in the treatment of you and your employment rights. There is the clause that your terms and conditions can be renegotiated, by consent.
For those of you signing a voluntary severance arrangement without any advice or proper indication of the extent to which you are signing an agreement that terminates all of your existing rights that is a matter for you.
For NAPO members, and I would advise all staff to join NAPO now, not one of our terms and conditions will be negotiated away under the life of this contract while I remain your Chair of the NAPO SSW Branch. The reason why we clearly do not have to, is because they have to have our consent. That will never happen!
Members, this is just part of our collective position please remain strong and resolute. Your Union will support you in all matters that are employment related. If you are reading this now, and not a member, ask yourself why not at this time?
Dino Peros NAPO SSW Branch Chair