Some progress made in resumed talks but a lot remains to be resolved
Last week saw the first fairly positive meeting for some time between Working Links senior management and the recognised trade unions – Unison, NAPO and GMB - to discuss the ongoing dispute and in particular a range of issues around Unpaid Work (UPW). This meeting was chaired by John Woods from ACAS.
Union reps raised the large number of cancelled placements and the resulting “lost hours,” including instances where offenders are sent away because no placements are available, and the resulting health and safety risk to staff.
We have secured agreement that the new Case Worker role which the employer wants to introduce to replace Band 3 UPW Supervisors will be subject to a job evaluation process with a panel including trade union reps.
Senior managers claim that changes to shift patterns (normally to a longer working day) are only happening voluntarily, but we are sceptical about this. If members are aware of any changes to shift patterns being effectively imposed on staff in UPW, please inform your local rep.
Crucially, we have secured agreement that until the changes in UPW are formally agreed, any changes to job descriptions and shift patterns will be without prejudice, and will not be used by the employer to argue that staff have accepted changes.
UPW staff in the South West and the Cardiff area have refused to accept changes to their current working conditions, until such time as there is proper and meaningful consultation.
With this in mind, we will continue to urge management to find an acceptable solution to the problems in UPW as soon as possible. Until this happens our advice to members in UPW remains not to sign anything implying agreement to variations of contract or changes in job title, or to attend one-to-one meetings in which you suspect you might be pressured or encouraged to do so.
We will continue to advocate for UPW staff in the South West of England who have rejected the proposed variations of contract to have the same opportunities to apply for redeployment, early voluntary redundancy or early retirement as staff in Wales have had.
No to Zero Hours!
We are concerned about the possible use of zero-hours contracts for sessional workers in the CRC – UNISON, NAPO and GMB are all opposed to the use of zero hour contracts and will continue to resist their implementation in favour of contracts with guaranteed minimum hours which maintain flexibility without jeopardising workers’ rights.
Memorandum of Agreement emerges
Whilst there are many issues still to resolve, there was some optimism about what appears to be a renewed willingness of senior Working Links managers to commit to working with the trade unions, and we anticipate that several more meetings are likely to take place in the near future, possibly extending the conversations around UPW to the Interventions teams and elsewhere. We are now seeking to finalise a Memorandum of Agreement that sets out the process for the detailed discussions around UPW.
Relations between UNISON, NAPO and GMB reps in the CRC are positive and we are working closely together. We remain optimistic that progress will be made soon, but for the moment we continue to remain in an official dispute with the three CRCs and Aurelius/Working Links.
More news will follow as soon as it is available, meanwhile it has never been more important for Working Links CRC employees to join a trade union and help us to collectively bargain for all!