Thanks go to the reader for forwarding the following circulated to all London Branch Napo members:-
MATERNITY LEAVE VICTORY IN THE NPS - MEMBERS HARMONISATION CONSULTATION – reply by 19th April
All NPS members should shortly be receiving an e-consultation on proposals to harmonise several MoJ/NOMS policies, including maternity leave and annual leave for new starters. The proposals are a vast improvement on initial offers and reflect prolonged and difficult negotiations at national level. Napo are recommending the package as a whole. Members are asked to indicate their view by no later than 19th April.
Napo is the only party who have consistently pressed for urgent harmonisation of maternity leave since at split but at various stages this has been prevented. In recent months the hold-up involved the NPS insisting that any improvement in maternity leave should be linked to a cut in annual leave. Napo very forcefully opposed a move we considered to be discriminatory. Our campaign on International Women’s Day highlighted members’ frustration with the NPS, with hundreds posting pictures online saying #maternitymatters. This helped persuade the NPS to drop the link to leave, although the proposals do harmonise leave for new starters.
NPS still had great concerns about their capacity to actually pay staff on maternity leave without several months lead in. This reflects the chaos and fundamental failings in the SSCL arrangements (see more below). Napo however proposed a compromise which was accepted. This means the package takes effect from 3rdSeptember, except for maternity leave which will apply for members with an EWC of 30th April, albeit with NPS stating that they may have difficulty paying people impacted properly. This is an honest, albeit shocking admission fro a major government department but Napo’s view was, unless there are major changes to the SSCL contract, we couldn’t be confident they’d be any better placed to pay people accurately in September. An earlier or backdated application of maternity pay however would have been too chaotic.
Members not receiving an e-consultation should contact Napo directly. New members in the NPS joining between now and 19th April can also join in the consultation.
PAY CLAIM COMING TO NPS, CRC and RISE
Hot on the back of the consultation about the NPS harmonisation package, Napo are also submitting their National Probation Pay Claim in the next few days. All members will be sent a copy of the claim so look out for it in your inbox over the coming week.
The claim is the same for all Employers, recognising the same challenges having transferred with a broken pay and grading model. The claim highlights how uncompetitive probation pay has become as a result of both the government’s prolonged pay freeze and the negative impact on pay progression this has disproportionately had in probation. Napo’s view is that these problems must be urgently addressed if probation employers are to have any chance of competing for staff or avoiding huge recruitment and retention challenges.
The recognised unions have been involved in pay reform negotiations with the NPS for some months are Napo remain hopeful that reform supporting the aims of the claim will be possible. The creation of HMPPS (HM Prison and Probation Service), adds further pressure on the NPS, as staff being expected to move into a custodial setting, could be asked to mentor and supervise prison staff in a lower equivalent grade, but who currently earn more than PO’s. We are also conscious however of the huge risk to MTCnovo’s capacity to compete for staff if NPS unilaterally introduces a significant pay gap. The same principle applies regarding softer terms such as maternity leave. For this reason Napo are lobbying government to make sure that the Probation Services Review (which is reviewing CRC contracts) recognises this risk and allows for a price adjustment so that CRCs can compete and members working in CRCs are protected.
To support the claim and the campaign, we will be holding a series of meetings and briefings for members.
NEW PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT READY TO BE SIGNED WITH MTCnovo
Following negotiations involving Representatives from London and Thames Valley Branches and Napo Deputy General Secretary, Dean Rogers, principled agreement has been reached with MTCnovo regarding a new local negotiation and consultation framework.
The model replicates the existing local Joint Consultative Committees for matters subject to local consultation - such as re-organisations, local office matters, etc. Contractual issues, such as pay and leave, will be negotiated across both MTCnovo Contracts via a pan-CRC committee with representatives from both London and MTCnovo unions. Representatives will have support from Napo HQ – in MTCnovo this will be Deputy General Secretary, Dean Rogers (who also directly supports members in RISE).
All of the key concerns about a joint agreement have been covered in the draft and the branch has now been informed that the agreement has been approved by Napo’s Officers and Officials Group – including agreement around legacy contract terms and a dispute mechanism that demonstrates a commitment to resolving disputes before any contractual changes are imposed. Confirmation that the agreement has been approved by Napo’s Officers and Officials Group was sought by local Chairs prior to agreeing to sign. Having now had formal notification that the agreement has been approved we are now ready to go ahead and sign the partnership agreement.
ON THE SUBJECT OF PAY…
Members in the CRC will be conscious that a payroll error meant that their March pay was delayed. This caused obvious distress and worry to members. Napo were able to make early contact with MTC Novo and we remained in regular contact throughout Friday. MTC Novo who were quick to both recognise the error and start to try and correct it. They also quickly agreed to meet any financial losses (e.g. bank charges, etc) and we will be talking to them further this week to clarify that all payments have been made and to see how any losses can easily and quickly be recovered for members.
MEANWHILE THE SSCL JUST CAN’T SHARE NICELY…
Napo has had less success trying to resolve the many different processing failures in NPS HR. These currently include new starters not being paid at all; continuing problems with staff not having the correct PAYE amounts deducted leading to tax issues; staff changing their working pattern (e.g. maternity leave; going part time; increasing their hours) not being paid or taxed correctly; pensions contributions not being correctly collected; staff moving roles being issued with the wrong contracts; etc. We are extremely conscious of the increased risks arising from more staff being moved towards working in HMPPS.
The SSCL contract is clearly another example of the failed, rushed TR sell off. Put bluntly, any shared-service model can only work if all those covered are on shared terms and conditions. The insistence from HM Treasury that the split was dependent upon probation staff remaining in the local government pension scheme alone means this isn’t possible. Failures to address pay issues just exaggerate the differences whilst differences in maternity and leave have further highlighted the problem. Napo has been willing to address harmonisation to try and solve member’s problems but as we close the gaps the scale of the problem becomes ever clearer.
Napo is now of the view that this cannot be fixed without starting over. We are now lobbying Ministers and the Justice Select Committee to call for an enquiry into TR and asking them to call in the SSCL contract.
NAPO HOSTING PROBATION MEETS
National Napo suggests……….
‘With so much going on and so much negativity around probation, prisons and the Justice Sector, it is important that we remember why we do what we do, and find new ways of getting together to talk about what our work should be about. Staying positive about probation has never been more important.
With people working so hard finding time to get together isn’t easy and attending old style union meetings can be difficult. Napo recognise this, which is why we are launching a series of informal, social get together after work where people can come with the specific task of saying why they still love probation, share successes and talk about what and how they want to see probation work in the future.’
National Napo wants to pilot these get together type meetings in London and Thames Valley.
We think National Napo’s aspiration is admirable, however, times are tough and the branch execs view at this time is that………
We recognise that London Branch has a diverse membership and many of our members have child care and other spare time commitments (not least recovering from work pressures) that make meeting after work etc difficult. What we suggest, as a first step, is that members start small by getting together with Napo colleagues for lunch (instead of eating at your desks) in order to talk about the issues that most concern you over a cup of tea/coffee and a sandwich etc. As a suggestion you could make this the last Friday of the month and advertise it to colleagues. Recent events have been experienced as disruptive and impacted on staff in many different ways not least with regard to the availability of local office union reps and access to experienced union members who have either moved elsewhere or left probation altogether.
In many work places we now need to rebuild the union networks from the bottom up and we need your help to do so. Getting together in small groups with other Napo members is the start of union activity at a grass roots level (it’s how unions started) and from your activity we hope to build a stronger union. You might, for example, decide to take small but significant decisions to kick-start things in your office such as agreeing re-establish a union notice board to provide a visible union presence or decide to participate in a Napo campaign or discuss professional issues such as training or the IT system. We know that once you get started then there will be no stopping you as there is a lot of energy and ideas out there and by meeting regularly you will gain invaluable support from your union colleagues and know you are doing something constructive.
If you need any advice and support regarding this, please get in touch. The idea is to get together, to get something started, please contact Mail London NAPO, or. nps.LondonNAPO
DEAN ROGERS (Assistant General Secretary)
PATRICIA JOHNSON (NPS Co Chair) David A Raho (CRC Co Chair)