Monday, 4 December 2017

Latest From Napo 167

Here's last Friday's blog post from the Napo General Secretary:-


It’s late on a Friday and I have still to do some work in advance of a full day’s business in Cornwall on Monday speaking with Napo members and meeting the local Police and Crime Commissioners.

I will shortly be issuing another statement to NPS members describing the shambolic state of affairs in relation to that generous zero pay offer from the NPS that I wrote out about in last week’s mail out.

Essentially, Michael Spurr says that he is unable to improve on the position due to Treasury restrictions on exceeding the 1% 2017 pay envelope that we are told he has already spent when factoring in incremental progression and the uplifting of salaries to existing staff in the five NPS ‘red sites’ where higher starting pay is offered. The unions have yet to be convinced that his people have got their sums right. Who can blame us after the SSCL pay and pensions fiasco that is still throwing up fresh cases each week and pay data that is about as old as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

On MFS they tell us that ‘compliance reasons’ prevent them from progressing any further payments and that they intend to address this as part of a wider set of pay reforms in a business case that has been submitted to HM Treasury for approval saying that they hope to reinstate these payments in 2018/19. Hugely reassuring for new starters and existing staff alike.

Right now those Dogs and Ponies look a lot more competent with their performance.

The true cost of Public Sector Pay depression

I have just received a copy of the IPPR research report 'Uncapped Potential - the economic and fiscal impact of lifting the public sector pay cap' commissioned by the TUC and GMB.

The report demonstrates the returns made to the Treasury through the fiscal and economic impact of raising pay under different scenarios and how this significantly reduces the headline cost.

IPPR's analysis shows that raising public sector pay in line with inflation costs £5.8 billion by 2019/20, but this falls to £3.3 billion after higher tax receipts and lower welfare payments are taken into account – this figure is reduced further when wider economic impacts are factored in.

More to follow on this and the Westminster debate on public sector pay on Monday.

Legal Aid debate in Parliament

A major debate took place this week on the provision of legal aid in the UK. Here is the transcript.

Your personal e-mail address helps Napo to keep you posted

Lots more news to follow later in the week shortly, but another reminder to help you respond to colleagues who say they don’t hear anything from Napo. A personal email address means that we can send material directly to you without employers firewalls and access restrictions getting in the way: and along with my weekly blog posts there are usually a range of members updates and special offers on Napo ‘Extra’ going direct to your personal inbox.


Thanks to the reader for forwarding the following that also went out on Friday:- 

CRC News
What’s the real picture across Working Links CRCs?

The Probation trade unions have been in a long running dispute with your employer Aurelius/Working Links for over 20 months. This letter explains the position we are now at following every effort by your local and national representatives to get industrial relations back on track; but which despite the intervention of ACAS, are at a stage where we now need to consult with members to receive direction on our next steps. 

Past and recent history shows just how Working Links treat you with disrespect. To remind you, this dispute has been brought about by: 
  • The employer’s savage cuts programme; which has resulted in the loss of more than 50% of jobs across the 3 CRC’s while the operational model is still unfit for purpose. 
  • A failure to consult with the unions in accordance with National protocols especially over the terms and mechanism of the abysmally handled EVR scheme.
  • Failure to engage properly over workloads and employee wellbeing using well established policies that will benefit the staff and the employer. 
  • Failure to engage and explain the Operational model that we predicted would result in serious deficiencies in service delivery. 
Following the last set of talks brokered by ACAS in the summer, it became clear that there was little appetite amongst senior management to engage properly with the unions. This followed an impasse over a proposed Memorandum of Agreement on Unpaid Work Services which it had been hoped would result in a settlement on this important issue that would have given both sides some confidence that we could make progress on other areas of the dispute. 

When the unions asked to know what the company’s plans were to rectify the multitude of problems identified by the HM Probation Inspectors report into service provision in Gloucester, we were told that the cause of this damning report (which highlighted the incredible efforts of staff) were absences due to maternity leave, insufficient staff being in post and that there were higher than usual levels of sickness absence. 

Any hopes of further progress at that stage were dashed by this incredible response and since then Working Links have failed to respond to the trade unions request to open a separate “no strings” dialogue on future pay and reward for their staff. 

It’s time to pay up and engage with the unions on Pay! 

The astonishing revelation that Working Links/Aurelius have been paid additional funding by the MoJ of £4.2 million for this financial year (part of a four year package reportedly worth £277 million to shore up the 21 CRCs in England and Wales) has caused understandable anger among many members who are struggling to pay their bills. The details of this settlement were not brought before Parliament, and the unions nationally have already raised questions in political circles. I have brought this to the attention of the ongoing Parliamentary enquiry by the Justice Select Committee into the dreadful Transforming Rehabilitation programme which, as Napo predicted 4 years ago is falling apart at the seams with your employer being amongst those with the worst track record on effective interventions and public safety considerations as recently evidenced in the BBC Panorama programme to which I contributed. 

In light of this news, the unions have demanded that the employer should reward all of its staff and engage with us in urgent ‘no strings’ talks on 2017 pay and beyond and future arrangements for securing our members jobs. 

We need to get a better understanding of what our loyal Napo members think about the situation and your willingness to move to the next stage of this long running and unnecessary dispute. Napo and Unison are holding (and planning to hold) a series of consultative meetings for our members across the three Working Links CRCs. 

So far, I am speaking at the following meetings and look forward to seeing as many of our members there as possible and maybe you can encourage non member colleagues to come too as they will be very welcome: 

Monday 4th December - Bodmin Probation Office 3:30pm (this will be after my meeting with the local PCCs) 

Friday 8th December - Weston Super Mare appx 10:30 Friday 8th December 1:00 tbc Bristol UNISON offices 

Please contact your local Napo CRC reps to find out more about the dispute and upcoming meetings as these are arranged. 

DDC CRC: Dino Peros and Denice James 
BGSW CRC : Ceris Handley 
Wales CRC: Pen Gwilliam, Ian Jones, Migden-Sue Roberts and Lisa Robinson

Napo members standing together in UNITY in defence of your jobs, fair pay and safer communities.

Ian Lawrence


  1. Ian - Please use the English language to communicate as opposed to the American colloquialisms preferred by management-speak nobheads.

    " 'Dog and pony show' is a colloquial term which has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends."

    1. And please stop making Napo comms all about you... Napo is about the members & the profession.

    2. You have to hand it to the activists in this area. They're still in there and fighting. Well done!

    3. Yes, they are and well supported by the general Secretary no less! It says a lot that he is supporting their dispute and has united all their members in the regions against privatised services that are not real. Sad to read Ian has been attacked already whilst doing great work for the unions members.

  2. To those of you who are critical of the terminology, can I point out that language changes and develops with usage, otherwise we'd be writing and talking as they were in Elizabethan times. Not just my opinion. See 'Fowlers Modern English Usage'.
    It's extraordinary that at a time like this you're more concerned about this than the members who are suffering the terrible style of Working Links. Says a lot about you.

  3. Come on 8.43. That's hardly fair!

    1. If everyone understands what's being said, and the sentiment of content and tone are felt WTF?
      Its the issues that's important not the diction.
      Would anyone refuse a pay rise because they didn't like the wording used when it was being asked for?
      I think not.

  4. Loss of essential user allowance, loss of 3 days' annual leave entitlement, no pay rise for 7 years, Probation Service sold off, dodgy Agreement signed off thus no EVR for most, hundreds of jobs lost to date, professional standards diluted.

    Dino, Denice & co have been leading the SW battle & they deserve full credit for their considerable efforts.

    Language is important. It does change over time, context is critical, but how we use it defines us & it can be very divisive. Managerialism & its associated pseudo science have brought us their own language of self-defined exclusivity - blue sky thinking, drilling down, etc . Just listen to the non-sense from politicians, especially the Brexiteers. Similarly social media brings its own language, another evolution. But have you read Trump's tweets?

    Dismissing the importance of how language is used is foolish & dangerous.

    As it happens I DID vote to refuse a pay rise because I didn't like the wording when it was being asked for, i.e. I wasn't prepared to sacrifice 3 days' annual leave.

  5. Unfortunately, the state CRCs find themselves in, understaffed, excessive workloads, piss poor working conditions, unable to offer support to clients, stressed and angry, was all so predictable by just looking at the history and working practices of the companies that were awarded TR contracts.
    Previous behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour?
    If companies have a repeat 'record' of fraud, stripping assets and staff numbers, mismanagement and poor service delivery in every other contract they've been paid to deliver then they're just going to do the same with the next contract they're given.
    NAPO, UNITED, UNISON, whoever, need a united drive to get these corrupt greedy companies away from feeding from the treasury coffers under the guise of delivering public services.
    They don't deliver. They feed off the tax payer at greater cost then the publicly owned model.
    It shouldn't be individual fights. The same problems are rife throughout the public sector, transport, NHS, prisons etc, all face the same issues.
    Taking back the public sector from privateer pirates requires a united public sector approach, not individual battles.


  6. I must be missing something: 50% of the jobs have gone and yet the praises of the SW are still being sung. At what point do some posters come out of denial and accept that all the hyperbolic talk of a brave fight has achieved zero? With a dose of realism, you can see that the SW is simply the best-looking horse in the glue factory!

    As the probation service is not struggling to recruit new staff, the likelihood is that wages will continue their real terms fall and it will remain a female dominated workforce. Probation has no industrial muscle, so it's no surprise that the employers can manage the docile workforce as they wish. The unions ask for talks – they are ignored. They beg Spurr to make their case for a pay increase – he says he's spent all the money on the prison service.

    On Working Links the union leadership looks to members for directions on 'next steps', as though the union was an agony aunt. The unions well know that the only possibility of forcing the intransigent WL to rethink is through a credible threat of strike action. The pragmatic union leadership won't make the arguments for action. They push the onus onto a membership which is fractured, passive, atomised and therefore too weak to make a difference to anything.

    1. Any hopes of further progress at that stage were dashed by this incredible response and since then Working Links have failed to respond to the trade unions request to open a separate “no strings” dialogue on future pay and reward for their staff.

      It’s time to pay up and engage with the unions on Pay!

      They won't engage until they're forced to. The question therefore must be what needs to be done to force engagement?

    2. Take them to court for breach of contract and unsafe working conditions!

  7. They are well aware that the robots wil not strike .... no pay rise forever ....

    1. How come probation staff have lost their backbone.

  8. Having read many posts on this truly helpful blog, and having been a NAPO member for over 15 years, and having enjoyed and been proud for the most part of being associated with the Probation Service, I have come to the conclusion that as staff, being experienced, dedicated and knowledgeable, on what works and equally what doesn’t, we are no longer listen to, considered or valued. We work for a faceless bread of pen pushers, pushing through a tick box, computer driven, target led framework that fails the service users, public and staff alike. And no one in charge cares.

    Simply put, unless we all stand together, including every member, and use the financial and legal services of NAPO and Unison combined, to muster a movement of our own, we may as well just roll over and be done because nothing we have done so far has stemmed the tied of the destruction of our once respected Probation.

    My question is this; what if anything can be done, on ground level and also by the unions?

  9. This is not the place to discuss or publicise union strategies. I have become convinced over a period of time that our adversaries follow this blog, and from time to time will post comments for mischief.

  10. as a service user, I for one would welcome a strike against the CRCs.
    It would give us all a break