Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Latest From Napo 135

Defending National Collective Bargaining Issue 1 - Jan 2017


This bulletin is the first in a series of updates for Napo activists working in the National Probation Service, the Probation Service Northern Ireland, or a Community Rehabilitation Company. Please ensure that you take the time to read it and discuss it with members in your workplaces. It can also be referenced in your contact with non-members as part of Napo's recruitment campaign.

Industrial action options following the Indicative Ballot

We have now had the result of the indicative ballot that we issued in December as a follow up to the direction contained in the AGM resolution.

The Officer Group have agreed the recommendation from the General Secretary that it would not be in Napo’s tactical interests to publish the result since it would reveal much to the employer about the strength of feeling in particular areas.

That said, it is clear from the feedback that we have received and willingness to take industrial action from over 70% of those who returned their ballot, that a head of steam is starting to build up amongst members on their willingness to take action to defend National Collective Bargaining.

On that basis, the Officers have agreed that calling Industrial Action merely to try and restore the NNC machinery would not be in our members interests and that the energy needed would distract us from the likelihood of industrial action on other issues. For example, it is clear that Napo now needs to prepare for the possibility of major industrial campaigns on pay, where we expect to see National Collective Bargaining standards applied to all of our members across the NPS, PBNI and CRCs; and workloads, where it is evident that many members are facing huge difficulties. Indeed, we have today issued specific material on Workloads as per BR03/2017

We want to express our appreciation for the considerable efforts of our activists in helping to secure a reasonably respectable turnout in the indicative ballot. This was an important test of our member’s feelings about this key issue.

For some 12 months the established National Negotiating Council structure has been under threat as NOMS and CRC employers have signaled their intention to move to separate single table bargaining arrangements. Napo and the Probation unions have worked hard to prevent the demise of the NNC; but by last autumn it became obvious that this prospect would soon become a reality.

At Napo’s hugely successful AGM in Wales last year the conference sent out a clear response that Napo should launch a campaign to defend national collective bargaining.

The following motion was carried:

Defend national collective bargaining

The National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections signed 28th January 2014 gives a specific undertaking to protect national collective bargaining. This is summarised in paragraph 21 where it states:

“It is agreed that the existing national collective bargaining arrangements will continue in the CRCs and NPS on 1 June 2014 by means of the Staff Transfer Scheme. The NNC and SCCOG machinery will also continue to apply to new staff.”
Post share sale a number of CRC owners are threatening to replace national collective bargaining with completely local arrangements. While a few staff may benefit from locally competitive local pay and conditions, in all likelihood this will result in a ‘race to the bottom’ in most areas. More importantly, it will torpedo Napo’s stated aim of achieving a nationally agreed, fair and equitable pay structure.

Officers and Officials are instructed to oppose any attempt to break up national collective bargaining and to launch a campaign amongst members in any CRC that threatens to withdraw from current NNC/SCCOG arrangements.

What has happened since then?

Soon after the AGM it became clear that NOMS intended to follow through with their policy to withdraw from the NNC and just before Christmas, Napo and the probation unions received formal notice to that effect. As we had predicted, this subsequently resulted in all CRCs also indicating their withdrawal from the NNC with effect from the end of January/early February. As you would expect there were a series of meetings with some especially heated exchanges with NOMS senior management as well as exchanges of correspondence.

Following an invitation from the Director of Probation, Napo and the probation unions are still engaged in talks with ACAS to consider how they might assist in establishing some transitional arrangements to ensure that employers recognise their obligations to abide by NNC legacy policies and the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement despite the end of the NNC in its present form. More news on this will be issued following the next scheduled meeting early next month.

What happens next?

The indicative ballot, whilst encouraging in many respects, indicates that we still have a considerable amount of work to do in order to build sufficient momentum for industrial action on a national basis.

This does not rule out the use of industrial action in CRC specific disputes or those that may emerge in the NPS, or PBNI. Should our members call for such ballots to be held then Napo will respond immediately.

The Officers have carefully considered the ballot result and have determined that in order to protect members from the possibility of being left out in the cold as local negotiating machinery is being developed (UNISON policy is contrary to that from our AGM) the following policy statement was agreed:

As the NNC will cease to exist from 31st January following the withdrawal from all the employers, we must allow negotiators to engage with employers to develop bargaining machinery. Any negotiating body constitutions should be ratified by the NEC and any agreements should be brought back to Officers and Officials to ensure consistency and adherence to national policy.

This effectively means that Napo activists working alongside your Link Officers and Officials should now seek to develop bargaining machinery specific to the relevant employer whilst making it absolutely clear that final assent to such arrangements will only secure Napo agreement if they are consistent with existing NNC policies and National agreements and standards.

We will be issuing information to individual members by mail-out to keep them informed, but CRC branch activists should engage with their National Link Officials to discuss the approach to be taken on pan-CRC negotiating machinery in light of the policy statement above.

Enquiries in respect of this bulletin should in the first instance be directed to your National Link Officer or Official who will if necessary liaise with Napo Head Office.

Finally our thanks to all of our activists for their continued support for Napo members in what is the most testing industrial landscape that this union has ever had to operate in.

Napo Officers Group:
Chris Winters, Yvonne Pattison, Katie Lomas, Chas Berry, Chris Pearson, Jay Barlow

Napo General Secretary
Ian Lawrence


  1. Sad but further evidence that "The National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections signed 28th January 2014" was never worth the paper it was written on. Has anything contained in that agreement been honoured?

  2. If we had respected and formidable General Secretary and Credible Chairs we would have a chance to preserve collective bargaining. The MoJ and CRC leads know that NAPO top table are weak and ineffective just as the union members do. New General Secretary please. Can u start a campaign Jim to identify contenders, Gina Miller and Harry Fletcher mentioned, both have strong profiles and determination to succeed.

    1. It's not the leadership, it's the membership – who have no collective identity, no interest in defending their their conditions. If ultimately workers will not fight their corner, then it's pointless being in a invertebrate union that has no industrial muscle

      I bet the ballot turnout was embarrassing and Napo pouting about 70% is meaningless without the turnout figure. Anyway, the race to the bottom is now really on in Probation Direct. Roll up you agency workers, many of whom will have their severance in their back pockets. They will do OK. It's the ones looking for a career who are the losers.

    2. £75k would buy one week of Gina Miller's time, and Harry's happy gladhanding & lobbying in & around Westminster. There's a chap called Corbyn who might be looking for an opening soon...

    3. Jim do u know when Ian Lawrence was elected and when his 5 year term ends. We need new management

    4. • Continuation of National Collective Bargaining - national collective bargaining arrangements will be continued with the recognised trade unions. These arrangements, which will replicate the existing NNC and SCCOG machinery appropriately reconstituted, will be recognised in formal Constitutions agreed
      by 31 May 2014.

      • Maintenance of existing funding levels for national and local facility time subject to compliance with the Cabinet Office Framework or as otherwise agreed exceptionally, plus the provision of additional facility time as agreed in respect of particular demands placed on trade union representatives as a result of Transforming Rehabilitation.
      I read this from the staff transfer and protections agreement that national collective bargaining appears to be a protected arrangement can anyone tell us why napo are balloting on an issue that has the agreement enshrined why are they not just making the case for a court ruling as a clear failure? Top table have any idea what they ought to be doing here. Errant foolish London branch might need to pay some regard here too their position affects all the branches.

    5. Yeah, just what I was thinking. If we have a contract stipulating one things, then surely then cannot do another without being VERY clearly in breach of said contract. I'm not even sure why NAPO are having a ballot on something that is clearly a breach of contract. Pretty much everyone on this forum knows the longstanding remedy (by the Courts) for breach of contract.

      As they have clearly indicted they are going to breach the contract, just start proceedings and stop f-Ing around!

  3. And herein lies the delusion: "It's the ones looking for a career who are the losers." CRCs are not offering careers. They've dismantled the notion of a career & simply want 'operatives' to process workloads & achieve targets.

    Napo was once a cutting-edge, progressive professional association which also doubled as a union. It had its faults, as does everything, but it was very well respected. In my view it began to take itself too seriously, started to drift towards a culture of personality, and hubris was its downfall. I worked hard as a local & national rep for a while but didn't "fit in" & became marginalised, at which point I stopped putting in 70 hours' union work a month on top of 150 hours as a PO. I remained a paud up member & tried to continue with positive contributions. Recent years' events have led me to, very reluctantly, leave a 25 year career behind. I'm saddened & enraged by the poor support for staff as well as by the abuse levelled at staff. The providers of rehabilitation services have been given both political & financial advantage to replace the Probation Service of the past. We're nearly three years post-Agreement and Napo haven't got a legal position. Shouldn't that have been established pre-Agreement? We were sent into an ambush.

    "Forward, the Napo Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not though the PO knew
       Someone had blundered.
       Theirs not to make reply,
       Theirs not to reason why,
       Theirs but to do and die.
       Into the Job Centre Plus
       Walked the six hundred.

    With sincere apologies to Lord Alfred.

  4. Some letters that may be found in letterboxes around the country:

    Dear Parent, Your child is a pupil at our school & we don't get enough money from the government so to help us pay the electricity bill we will now be charging for hire of a classroom chair. You will recognise that standing up in class is frowned upon except as a punishment or when reading out poetry so it is essential that you hire enough chairtime for your child to complete their lessons. Buy a term's worth of chairtime to qualify for a discounted rate. Please note if a child falls below the 99% lesson attendance target you will be charged a further financial penalty and the hourly rate will be increased.

    Once we have installed the new G4S Smart Carpet we will start charging for footfall per child, with additional penalties incurred for running in the corridors.

    Dear Patient, Please note we will now be charging for a range of options in order to enhance our practice. There will be charges for car parking, with discounts available for season tickets, and an entry fee to the practice via the turnstile. Once again discounts are available for season ticket holders plus there is a VIP option which allows patients to sit whilst waiting.

    Whatever happened to Income Tax, National Insurance, VAT, insurance levies, duties on fuel, alcohol & other imported goods, road tax - or every other stealth tax that empties our pockets? Presumably that money is still being cheerily handed out to the global greedypigs.

  5. Just heard liz Truss say whilst speaking on today's prison debate that she'll say more about probation in April when she announces new probation changes.
    I wasn't aware there was changes planned in April, and wonder why anyone would plan changes before the up coming probation report is published?


  6. to Getafix,, where have you been? Christmas shopping? Or escape from Christmas shopping, in a cosy hole with no Wi-Fi or newspapers-(I'm asking that in a nice way - I am not a troll! Liz Truss's response to the rise of damning reviews of the Probation Service has been much discussed on this Blog recently, mainly around mid-Dec, when a lot of sites sprang up on the web about newspaper reviews, the Guardian in particular.

    Read this blog 10/12/16 'what you told the Guardian' - when Liz Truss sprang into defensive mode once the abysmal audits and reports started to pour in. I recall comments being made on a 'why wait until April?' theme. The crisis is NOW.

    Hope that helps.

    1. ML - Lets not get carried away here though - Liz Truss won't be announcing anything good or positive for probation - it'll be about how the CRC's can get more money most likely.

    2. Thanks ml, I've done the Xmas shop, had no wifi at times and I live in a bunker rather then a hole!
      But I take your comments in good spirit the way they were intended.
      I recall the stuff in the Guardian, but took that as a platform for POs to have a say regarding the report/inquiry that's due to be published soon. I didn't realise the government were already planning changes to the service to be introduced in April.
      Listening to Truss today, I got the impression that changes in April were set to be more fundamental then just trying to iron out some of the problems with TR.
      Nevertheless, I'll try to keep up to speed.


    3. Agreed, JB. The planned changes will take no account of any comments about or by probation service provision other than the poisonous words & threats of the CRC employers who have direct access to Truss. Not forgetting the Noms bullies who, with MoJ's blessing, are slowly absorbing NPS into their control & command structure. Its a signature move of the Tory bullies, empty promises followed by actions that serve the ends of the few whilst disenfranchising the many. For example, undisclosed £Millions of public money spent on chalenging the legal issues around Europe have lined the pockets of high-flying barristers, but where is the promised £350M a week for the NHS?

    4. Yep Jim, I think we all accepted the inevitable - changes yes, improvement - NO! When have we been able to hope that the Tories- certainly those at the top of the tree in our current age - would ever do anything to improve the lives of the vulnerable and the workers (other than those who are already living quite nicely thank you!).

      Glad the cheeky humour was understood and responded likewise Getafix! Hope you don't have to pay council tax for your bunker! Or heaven forbid, bedroom tax if you have an upmarket bunker..

  7. "Serco chief: government saw it as “badge of pride” to transfer “massive” risk to outsourcers"

    With acknowledgements to Essex Napo for the link: -

  8. "Kate Hollern Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 12:00 am, 24th January 2017

    Q. What recent assessment she has made of the effect of the volume of probation officer caseloads on the effectiveness of the probation service.

    A. Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

    We are currently conducting a comprehensive review of the probation system so that it reduces reoffending, cuts crime and prevents future victims. A wide range of factors impacts on the effectiveness of probation services, including not only caseloads but the nature of supervision and rehabilitative support.

    RESPONSE. Kate Hollern Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

    In October, a joint report by the prisons and probations inspectorates found that

    “high workloads meant that there was no time to think about cases in prison” and that

    “workload for resettlement workers meant that they spent very little time working with individual prisoners”.

    Is not that evidence that the Government’s mistaken privatisation of the probation service is failing prisoners, failing to prevent reoffending and therefore failing to protect the wider community?

    FURTHER RESPONSE. Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

    Our ambition for the probation system review, due out at the beginning of April, is clear. We want a simple probation system with clear outcome measures, such as getting offenders into employment and housing. Outcomes, rather than inputs, are the best way to judge our probation service across the board.

  9. COMMENT: "Christina Rees Shadow Minister (Justice)

    Some in the justice system have raised fears that recall is used too readily by community rehabilitation companies because they are disincentivised from investing time in those they consider will not be able to complete their community sentence. What assessment has the Minister made of the use of recall by community rehabilitation companies?

    RESPONSE: Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

    The hon. Lady makes a good point about the process whereby community rehabilitation companies have to justify the grounds for recall to officials in the National Offender Management Service before going ahead. Where officials do not find grounds for recall, they will then challenge the community rehabilitation companies. It is important to recognise that sometimes recalling an offender who is in breach of their licence allows the offender manager to put in place the appropriate mechanisms to manage them in the community.

    1. "community rehabilitation companies have to justify the grounds for recall to officials in the National Offender Management Service before going ahead."

      Is this correct? Or is this the new designation of NPS probation staff, "officials in NOMS"?

  10. COMMENT "Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Climate Justice)

    What steps are the Government taking to ensure that mental health problems are picked up as part of the rehabilitation process, not just to reduce suicide rates in prisons but to ensure that services are streamlined on release?

    RESPONSE: Elizabeth Truss The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

    The hon. Lady is absolutely right that mental health is a major issue. We are giving governors more power over the commissioning of mental health services in prison. I also want to see better diagnosis of mental health issues earlier in the criminal justice system, when people appear in court and when they are on community sentences."

  11. It's a case that's been highlighted on this blog before (SFO) and a long read, but it may be of interest as it's a case that's not going to be allowed to be buried by Working Links, and a case that looks like it's to be raised in parliament, with an underlying question of public safety and probation privatisation.


    1. Wonky Clinks have nearly 20 SFOs being kept a dark secret . No change there then secrets and lies.

  12. So Trump is stoking the fires of hatred & fear by reopening CiA covert establishments around the world to facilitate torture of suspects outwith US jurisdiction, Putin is decriminalising domestic violence & the UK is sleepwalking into etemal isolation after May takes her seat on Trump's right hand (perhaps could have phrased that better?).

    Better put my kitten heels on, lift my skirts and run like hell!

    1. Napo have clearly been outplayed, but May is so far out of her depth with Trump. Its as if Boris's uneducated doppelganger, who breakfasts on a cocktail of cocaine, viagra and crystalmeth, has been given his very own Whitehouse reality show.

      "Honestly, when I bought [Miss Universe], the bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher and the ratings went up."


  14. The contributions from 2125 and 1024 both highlight that probation staff are protected by the staff transfer and protection agreement which enshrines what can and cannot be done and which was approved by MoJ/NOMS at the outset of TR.

    There ought to be no question whatsoever about taking legal action against MoJ/NOMS for breach of contract as they plan to withdraw from collective bargaining which is an integral part of the agreement.

    Why are NAPO shilly shallying about this? Get the lawyers out and get these unprincipled characters into court - Liz Truss, Michael Spurr et al before this goes any further. I am no lawyer but the case seems iron clad, so no more talk about industrial action at this stage - get the blighters into court and NOW and see where this takes us. Is it too much to ask the union representing us to take some positive action instead of just wringing their hands? Get on and do it!


  15. Those idiot chairs are driving NAPO into the ground and have no authority to go against AGM decision to campaign to retain collective national bargaining. At PNC Gen Sec gave assurance NAPO would take legal advice on the breach of contract if employers served notice. They are going against the constitution and local branches need to formally write to them to complain. They need to go along with the gen sec. The officers and officials secretly met last week and agreed to break up collective national bargaining. Which bit of member led union do they not understand. If they take no legal action on this part of the contract they are effectively wavering their rights on the other measures by doing nothing to argue to retain national collective bargaining.

    1. Chas for chair Come Chas your a leader lead!! Chas for GS too Come on Chas you can do that just need an oil skin suit to match the current slippery Eel.

    2. What worth an AGM resolution if officers and officials conduct an indicative ballot, won't tell the member-led union the outcome and then use this information to ditch the AGM resolution?

    3. Napo seem to be doing the best of a bad job to me The members will not support a strike leaving Napo little choice

    4. 2329 don't know where you got the story of a Napo officers secret meeting went on last week . If it was secret as stated which national officer has leaked this story and why. What is happening in Napo hq and it seems to me at least this scandalous leak infers the officers are divided. Any details known ?

    5. I think 'secret' is misapplied. Napo 135 is essentially saying we must move on from the AGM resolution as the facts of the ground have changed: the employers are withdrawing from the national negotiating machinery. So, the union executive have taken a decision to play a role in creating new machinery.

      People complain that the Staff Transfer Agreement was worthless. It was an agreement between unequals and such agreements never hold water. All Napo can do is function as a lobby group, as they cannot cut the mustard as a trade union which in the final analysis has to be able to show that it can muster solidarity to, if needs must, withdraw labour. It has been plain for years now that Napo's membership is a tower of babel that will never fight for a common interest. I think it was always a myth that Napo could punch above its weight, now we know it cannot not punch its way out of a paper bag. And the employers know this too.

      All Napo does is bang on about recruitment as though apart from increasing subscriptions it will make any difference to preserving good conditions of service.

  16. Grayling should be sent to prison and made to live in the mess he created.


    1. A record number of people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, figures show. The Ministry of Justice said there were 119 self-inflicted deaths - 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since records began in 1978.
      It also reported a record high of 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents. Justice Secretary Liz Truss said prisons faced "long-standing issues that will not be resolved in weeks".

      She said the government was investing an extra £100m into the prisons estate, as well as hiring 2,500 more officers. Last year thousands of staff walked out in protest over health and safety concerns, amid claims that the system was "in meltdown" because of overcrowding and staff shortages. A number of serious disturbances also erupted in jails.

      The MoJ figures show that in the 12 months to September 2016 there were:

      Seven suicides at Woodhill, near Milton Keynes - the jail with the highest number

      Five in Bristol and four each in Bedford, Exeter, Humber, Leeds and Manchester prisons

      A record 354 deaths in custody overall - up by about one-third on 2015

      Three apparent homicides - down from a record eight in 2015

      Nearly 70 assaults in jails every day - the number of serious attacks rose 28%

      6,430 assaults on staff - up 40% on 2015. Of these, 761 were classed as serious

      Deborah Coles, director of the charity Inquest which works with inmates' families, said the prison estate was a "broken system" unable to deal with prisoners' problems, such as mental and physical ill health and addictions. Ms Coles added: "Inquest after inquest highlights the same systemic failures. "Countless investigations, prison watchdog reports and reviews recommend solutions to protect the health and safety of staff and prisoners that are systematically ignored."

      Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said reducing the jail population was the "only realistic way to make our prisons safe in the foreseeable future". He added: "We know that the worst outcomes happen in overcrowded prisons." Prisons in England in Wales are 98% full with 85,058 inmates, according to latest figures. The vast majority of inmates - 81,102 - are men. The number of self-inflicted deaths in 2016 was double the number of 2012. All but 12 of the 119 last year were in male prisons.


  17. Why should l go on strike to protect national bargaining when the union have conceded that the current pay structure is not fit for purpose. The only thing l can see wrong with it is that our employers have gone back on the deal meaning a 7year scale now takes 21 years.

    The plan l have seen to introduce a pay for the job above the bottom of the scale pittance but eay below the current pay max seems like an abject surrender to me. All it will do is lower wages in one hit rather than let them wither slowly on the vine. When/if thigs turn roud we need yo have prezerved all we can not sold itfora cheap bribe.