Thursday, 22 December 2016

CRC Dispute Latest 18

Dispute latest for all union members (and prospective members) in the Aurelius/Working Links owned Community Rehabilitation Companies

22nd December 2016


Over the last 12 months your trade unions have been pressing the employers to reconsider their disastrous strategy to reduce staffing by over 40% across the CRC estate and introduce an operational model that we believe is fundamentally unsafe and unfit for purpose.

This led the unions to register a dispute and approach the NNC Joint Secretaries which resulted in the recent intervention by ACAS. The other issues that have given rise to the breakdown in industrial relations have included:

The failure to implement the agreed redundancy policies before commencing staff reductions, which would have allowed for a transparent and structured approach to options that would avoid so many redundancies

The shambolic approach to the subsequent offer of enhanced voluntary redundancy to part of the workforce and a shabbily conducted and inferior voluntary severance scheme

A total lack of transparency as to why job cuts of this magnitude are considered necessary by Working Links Aurelius.

Secret deals between Aurelius and their bankers which we understand have been the main driver for achieving the 'end state' staffing figures.

The refusal by Aurelius/Working Links to work with us to challenge the Ministry of Justice's flawed payment by results mechanism and its impact on the weighted annualised volumes (WAV) formula which is also causing pressure on staffing numbers.

The suggestion that in fact it is the NOMS contract managers driving the staff reductions figure. If so this is a matter that stems from the original contract letting and MOJ NOMS will be held to account.

A dereliction of responsibility by employers to even the most basic health and safety requirements meaning that these are now part of the ongoing dispute and the subject of legal advice.


Despite the huge workload that ACAS are facing on a number of fronts at the moment, they have made every effort to try and engage with the parties, but the Unions have been repeatedly frustrated by the employers approach and their continuing failure to provide relevant information for the purposes of collective bargaining (direct negotiation) on these issues.

More recently, we have demanded that the employer demonstrate their commitment to provide a safe working environment by agreeing an upper limit for caseloads and have posited a number of questions and offered potential solutions that would help managers and staff to cope with the huge operational pressures that they are facing.

While we have this week received some statistical information that we asked for ages ago, none of it brings any comfort, or a sense that the unions concerns are being taken seriously. Worryingly, the latest figures on sick leave show a marked increase since the start of the year. Again, this is a health and safety issue for which the employers are clearly afraid of seeing public exposure. A new agreed approach to the working model will reduce the fears of staff or see them return to health. Meanwhile we await sight of the intended operational model.

It’s all about profit

The bottom line for companies like Aurelius who, we are told, purchased Working Links this year on the basis that they believed they would turn things round, is profit. This, and securing a foothold in the door for lucrative government contracts in other areas of the public sector.

Staff see regular portrayals of good news by senior management, but we have asked, not unreasonably, why there is such an unseemly rush to reduce staffing if they truly believe that new business is on the way. Aside from whether or not this turns out to be the case, it is a fact that Ministers have ordered a fundamental review of the CRC contracts (Probation System Review) and we know that the Prison reform programme will bring some opportunities for providers of probation services and that these factors should be considered before the employers seek to make further staffing cuts. Our concerns are that unless stipulations are clear over the use of new money or changes to the PbR formula then that will become profit as well.

Where next?

Whilst the trade unions have not ruled out further involvement with ACAS and have said that we will engage with management on health and safety issues in order to protect our members, we remain seriously disappointed at the disrespectful way in which we have been treated.

We intend to secure a meeting with the NNC Joint Secretaries and NOMS contract managers early in 2017, and are preparing our report which will provide a detailed chronology of the employers failings so far.

We have also been under some pressure from the media to give them information about the dispute, the consequences of reduced staffing and the direct impact on serious further offences across all of the areas covered by the 3 CRC's. We are considering these requests again, but have held back so far from public comment while we have been involved in ACAS talks and still await important information that would allow us to continue meaningful dialogue.

Protecting yourself 

Meanwhile, members are advised to take these 4 simple steps to protect your position while the dispute is still live.
  • Do not agree to take on work that is not part of your current job description 
  • Do not agree to a change in role unless this has been subject to job evaluation involving the unions
  • Enter all instances of a health and safety risk in the accident log or register these in writing with your line manager 
  • If you consider your caseload to be excessive register this in writing with your line manager 
Further work is currently underway on a number of issues that the unions are running past our lawyers regarding contract legislation and health and safety, and the unions will issue further advice to members as soon as we can into the new year.

The unions will also be organising a series of consultative meetings in the new year to report back on a number of issues and to test the mood of members to consider all the legal options as well as the possibility of further action in defending your jobs and services.

Meanwhile, we would like to wish all our members and their families as enjoyable a festive holiday as possible, and thank you for your continuing support for your Union in these very difficult times. If you are not already a member and are reading this bulletin then get in touch now so we can help to protect your interests as well.

General Secretary        Regional Organiser   National Secretary
Napo                             UNISON                    GMB/SCOOP


  1. Good work Dino as ever being their for us as members

  2. Just heard on the radio - it's all kicking off at HMP Swaleside.

  3. My compliments to the POA for their sterling efforts. Good luck with the new negotiations in 2017. Now that's what I call Solidarity.

    1. Also it would help if they stopped muleing in drugs for their charges too so the places could get their heads clear.


    December 16 - HMP Swaleside

    December 16 - HMP Birmingham
    Specialist riot squads were deployed to one of the country's biggest jails after a major disturbance broke out involving hundreds of inmates and lasting more than 12 hours. Prisoners set fires, stole keys to residential areas from a guard, and one inmate was seriously injured.

    November 6 - HMP Bedford
    A riot at the category B prison saw up to 200 inmates go on the rampage, flooding the jail's gangways in chaotic scenes which were posted on social media.

    October 29 - HMP Lewes
    A national response unit had to be brought in to control the prisoners at the East Sussex jail during the incident which lasted from 10.30am to 4.30pm. The Ministry of Justice said it involved a small number of inmates in one wing of the jail.

    October 18 - HMP Pentonville
    Police launched a "murder" investigation after Jamal Mahmoud, a 21-year-old of Somali descent who had just become a father, was killed in a stabbing attack in which two other inmates were injured at the north London prison at around 3.30pm.

    December 11 2015 - HMP Leicester
    A group of six prisoners, who were being kept in a segregation unit, broke through their cell walls and congregated in one cell in a stand-off with prison guards lasting for four hours.

    June 14 2015 - HMP Stocken in Rutland
    Around 60 prisoners took part as trouble flared among inmates and a number of small fires were lit. One guard and four other prisoners were taken to hospital and ten men were eventually charged with prison mutiny.

    March 8 2015 - HMP Deerbolt
    An inmate at the young offenders institution, in County Durham, was left with a fractured skull after a riot broke out and inmates reportedly began throwing pool balls and lighting fires during the disturbance.

    October 9 2014 - HMP Swaleside
    Three inmates were involved in a second disturbance at the prison within a week.

    January 5 2014 - HMP Oakwood
    Disturbances at the country's largest prison, run by G4S, took nine hours to resolve after up to 20 inmates threatened officers and damaged cells and prison property in one wing of the jail.

    1. Not to mention incidents at HMP Exeter in early November 2016, and HMP Erlestoke over the summer, which attracted less attention.

    2. And HMPs Nottngham, Lincoln, Ranby, Doncatraz, etc, etc.

  5. I really fear we are heading for a storm. Investment in Public Services of a kind that makes a difference needs a bigger tax take and I do not see, given Brexit and deficit, where that can be facilitated. I am one of those people who would gladly pay more tax to fund essential public services but I fear I am in a minority. Other approaches, therefore, need to be found and my thinking takes me to the size of the prison population when thinking about Criminal Justice and the necessity for a reduction, a sizeable one.

    1. There is PLENTY of money. It's being wasted. Look at the cost of implementing TR and replicate that across public services - cost of privatisation, bureaucracy, agency staff, bean counters, failed IT... Scandalous.

  6. Need to bring back work houses. These prisoners acting like animals

    1. What do you know then? If you lock people into a cell small cramped and 4 handed expect tensions. Try a week in the same room as your closest relations and the flash points will come. Think of this as strangers sharing totally the space in shifts and air . No privacy and people from different and damaged backgrounds. You refer to these people as animals . What might you think of the Tory agenda that has set these prisons to become store houses of people they refer to as waste. Animals you say but the treatment by the tories is barbaric and this ensures prison are places of stress and low morale. To understand you would need a stint in there and you may learn something. Hopefully something nice will happen to you and you might look so ugly.

    2. It'll be okay - Trump &/or Putin will nuke everyone & everything before Trump's first year in office is complete.

    3. Do the crime deal with the consequences. Prison shouldn't be easy

    4. The punishment is to be deprived of liberty, not to be treated in inhumane manner

    5. You're a socialist fool. Prisons in their current form are no deprivation of liberty. It's a joke. Bring back work houses and hard labour. That will get people job ready.

    6. Ebenezer 19:48.
      If you put children up chimneys from the age of three, you'd get people job ready before they started school. Wouldn't have to rely on other agencies.
      You obviously enjoy the thought of food bank's, hungry children, and an idiotic belief that you belong to a far superior class of society.
      Kiss Grayling are whilst you're at his Christmas dinner.

    7. Take cheap shots (you dick head) but the fact is that prisons are far too comfortable places. Access to video games , tv , sky , newspapers and everything else makes the system a joke. Most stay in bed all day. Make them work and rule with an iron fist. prison should be a deprivation of liberty and some more... We need to stop the riots.

    8. And you know so much about prisons, what works, and how they should be run because?
      Because you probably read the Sun newspaper.
      The very last thing the prison system needs (especially in the current climate) is some little dictator,Captain Beat Em All, who wants to be the administrator of Justice.
      I find your comments disturbing, and I won't even comment on your language.

    9. You're an out and our idiot. Assuming I read the sun because I must be thick for not agreeing with you.i feel sorry for the people you supervise!

    10. You feel sorry for the people I supervise?
      It's you that wants to bring back the dark ages, and flog em all.
      You're pitiful, nasty, and ignorant. Your tabloid education clearly shines through.

    11. Keep up the good work. I'm sure you're a inspiration to others!

  7. The unions don't want to share information with the media while ACAS is ongoing, despite the fact that the employers are indifferent to ACAS. It's the usual glib stuff. ASLEF, RMT, use the media in conjuction with ACAS. This CRC dispute is going nowhere.

  8. BA cabin crew vote to strike, Baggage handlers vote to strike. Both have now called off strikes, because they have received revised pay offers. Until probation staff work join up the dots they are condemned to bemoan their fate.