Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Probation Staff Sharing Thoughts 2

As new potential recruits to NPS get excited on Facebook as to whether they've passed the online test and can move on to an assessment centre for the PQiP, elsewhere on the same social media platform, news of yet another year with no pay rise leads to discussions of a very different sort:-

Getting ridiculous!

Just disgusting! For me it’s not just about the fact that I get fed up of struggling (I do appreciate that there are lots of people worse off) but I just want to be appreciated/valued for the fact our job is hard. We work with some of the most difficult and sometimes disturbing people. At the bottom of the pile again. I love my job but I am so fed up. If we all downed tools they’d be in a mess then but I guess they know we ain’t going to do that.

And... 17 yrs qualified and not even half way up the scale.

Haha and there was me being proud of 10 years.

What about refusing to do the SPOC roles that we are being expected to do, MARAC, MAPPA, Adult/Children safeguarding etc, which are basically extra unpaid roles to free up time for management to concentrate on managing us! What about refusing to do these extra things? People are told they are good for experience, career development, their appraisal etc. In fact you are taking on extra roles and responsibilities for no extra pay with a small incentive of some workload relief if you are lucky!


Not gonna happen. Not enough of us in the Union and people are "too poor to strike" so will continue to be paid less and less. It's called future discounting. The money in my pocket now is worth more to me than the money I will not get in future. That is why we are all still here. Cept for those here for their pension.

I know. What got to me and still does when we last went on strike was there was those who did and those who didn't because they didn't think it would make a difference or couldn't afford to despite being trade union members and happily crossed lines. Now I can fully and totally appreciate that every ones circumstances differ and that people have different outgoings and commitments, but some of those who chose not to go on strike are now the ones who keep going on about how bad things are and what is going to be done about it!!!! Was it not better to have tried and failed (or succeeded) than to have failed by not trying?

And I'm not pointing fingers at anyone on here. xx

There has to be something we can do collectively to voice our concerns.

Also we have to remember that to a lot of the new people in post (who have come from the charity sector often) they cannot see what we are going on about. You get paid well above median wage, have a stack of holiday and a pension that is worth something if you stick around. There are known conditions and a measure of job security (over here in the NPS at least) If you have never had any of that then you don't know what you have lost.

Watch out for them trying to offer us something to "modernise" our pay and conditions. I don't want "Modernising" I want what we had 3% a year progression plus uprating on all scale points. 7 years from top to bottom on main grade. 33 days leave a year (36 having gone the way of the dodo) and all the other stuff we had as a right.

The problem with the last strike was we didn’t join forces with unison which was a farce. And we didn’t strike for long enough. If you’re going on strike you need to be prepared to down tools for at least a week. But people are too short sighted and feeling so down trodden they’ve got no fight left.

Absolutely and there is no point doing it half hearted. I cannot afford to lose a days pay like most of us but I might as well lose a weeks pay and I’d take the hit If we were united about it.

Modernising pay will mean basic pay and target related commission. Watch this space.

Based on appraisals. With a cap on how many people can get top billing. My advice to you all is find a mediocre team to be a beacon of brilliance in. Oh and suck up to your boss.

My advice is man up and leave. Best thing I did!


  1. In the meantime the temps & employment agencies are cashing in, emptying the till while you're tied to living on 2009 rates of pay.

    1. Sadly neither Napo HQ nor Napo members who refused to strike did the profession any favours 2009-2017. Since the SW branch stood firm there seems to have been a more robust stance from Napo but GenSec still seems out of his depth. And in the meantime as someone observes above the T&Cs have been haemorrhaging annual leave, allowances, pay rises, etc.

      Night shift shelf stacking at a supermarket pays £12ph: Sun - Thurs at 10 hours a night = £600pw, or £2400pm.

    2. I can fully understand why many would call for strike action. But, I find it difficult to see what that would achieve.
      In the public sector there's no real productivity lost. People prepare for the strike days by doing a bit extra before, and catch up on rest afterwards.
      Infact because of the loss of pay its a process of paying to demonstrate your discontent to organisations and government that are fully aware of why you're so angry but couldn't give a shite.
      You also risk getting the spin doctors busy and make strike action more damaging then good. A protracted national public service strike may bring better results, but the same risks remain.
      It's not the amount of people that can be mustered that's important, it's the amount of public support that any action brings that's crucial.
      I think the public sector is very frayed, and the bit that stops it all unravelling is the goodwill shown by those who work in it.
      For me that's the key. The removal of goodwill would be far more effective then strike action.
      Not doing overtime. Not covering for those off sick. Not coming in those extra days even if you're offered payment for doing so. Not doing anything other then what you're contracted to do.
      Apply that across the public sector, it can be as protracted necessary, and with no one sowing up the frayed edges because it keeps everything else together, the the government (to my mind) would be far more concerned and willing to listen then they would be with a couple of days strike action.


    3. Wages in probation are unlikely to recover. Probation should be regarded, like nursing, social work and child care, as a female profession. It seems there is no shortage of new recruits. The decline in probation continues unabated, talk about strikes are empty threats which merely underscore the sorry state of the powerless workforce – except of the course the SW Napo Branch which lives by its own set of illusory achievements.

    4. What do you know ? Nothing I venture. There are some good advisory posters on here and that is the form of rejection of the privatisation. Sadly the Napo leadership do not appear to understand the relationships of saying something and delivering on it. Nor deliver the test of challenge. Perhaps your a senior manager a cowardly attack are you a leaver and pension grabber with the extra funds.

      The south Western branches are in combined disputes they have agreed nothing and retained the protections under the legitimacy of their policies it has been well publicised as you draw attention to it and their situation goes on and with the support of NAPO Ian Lawrence and unison. There are many things happening of which you appear to indicate do not possess the capacity to understand the significance.

  2. Criminology and media degree three weeks training on enforcement equates to low pay and lack of professionalism totally at odds with teaching, social work and nursing Who have increased standards and get more money than us ... that's the rub

  3. Very true Getafix. What is lacking is employee ability to see that together we have clout and there is a lack of courage to try it. Many of the managers are turning trigger happy with their threats of disciplinary and capability proceedings. A very significant issue in all this is that everyone has many more duties than can be covered in a day or a week. The "not doing anything other than what you're contracted to do" is becoming a "how long is a piece of string". New duties and activities for employees have been added sometimes on a daily basis, not just bureaucratic ones to accommodate the new pay structures for CRCs, but also duties no longer covered by facilities staff
    ( done away with) , admin staff ( drastically reduced and moved away from their localities) or managers ( the latter of which as mentioned above are now too busy managing to allow for their attending local partnership meetings). All these functions have been imposed on probation staff. Thus staff on the ground cannot possibly cover all that is required of them. All manager therefore has to do is tell anyone he wants to get rid of:" I can see you are not meeting all your requirements. You must be too slow/ unable to manage your time properly etc". The person under scrutiny is then presented with a set of tasks to improve his/her "performance " and extra work in accounting for how this has been done. The subject of the proceedings has the choice of working all the hours, literally, to get the manager off their back or alternatively enter an arena where they could potentially lose their job. If that happens to someone in a team the other team members should then ideally rush to the person's aid pointing out to the manager that they themselves are not doing their job as fully as they "should" either. Even if that happened it would be important that the whole team chose to not do those particular tasks properly which the person under scrutiny has been instructed to improve on. In that way the team can go to the manager and ask him/ her to put them all on capability. But this all takes a lot of cooperation, loyalty, courage and staying power. By which time the managers will have worked out that they would split the team and relocate its members. I'm not sure what union support is there to be had these days anyway. Some managers instruct their 'victims' not to talk to their team about what is happening to them. Some staff under proceedings feel ashamed so bear the burden themselves. I agree that much disruption could fruitfully be caused just by playing these games, but as I say it requires a togetherness and a unity and shared vision which I am less than sure the average probation team would muster. In order to up the team's confidence and sense of the clout they do have as a group by
    properly sticking together one small topic for change to which no or little risk would be attached could be tested out. However many teams, certainly in the CRCs are becoming less like teams and more like a collection of individuals with fewer and fewer things in common and little investment in the job, in each other or their work place. Time to scrap the whole thing and start again.

  4. I do think that there is something in action short of a strike. Using the Workload Management Tool more effectively and refusing additional work over and above what is actually measured will not put you in breach of contract. I doubt colleagues will vote for a strike but a well co-ordinated work to rule and withdrawal of good will, may have an effect. The thing that strikes me about NPS/HMPPS is how top heavy it all is, and inevitably direct action will initially only impact on middle managers. It will need to be sustained but working in a manner that impacts directly on target outcomes will at least make life uncomfortable for more senior managers. I do not call them leaders as they clearly fall some way short of that title. The other thing to bear in mind is that a large number of SPOs are as fed up with this shambles and haven’t failed to notice that the only financial beneficiaries from TR have been ACOs upwards. Which follows a similar pattern in other public services. So if a strike is out of the question a form of work place disobedience may have an impact. Do not extend good will, do your hours and go home, do not take work that is not measured, when the IT packs in don’t faff about trying to complete work to hit targets. Do your hours and leave. They can not discipline everybody.

  5. No point in striking. Work to rule would be far more effective.

    1. When was it ever effective in probation?

  6. 'As new potential recruits to NPS get excited on Facebook as to whether they've passed the online test and can move on to an assessment centre for the PQiP ...'
    I don't think we should overlook the motive of new recruits to arrive well intentioned and keen to make a difference.
    What is the difference they should make and what does the evidence say about how it can best be achieved?
    I say good luck to them, I remember how excited and daunted by the prospect I was.

  7. I was a potential new recruit last summer. Potential only as i failed the absurd online situational judgement test. I belived foolishly that the test would relate to issues pertinent to criminal justice. Instead the scenarios in the test related to business, dealing with co-workers, delegating work when a co-worker calls in sick etc. Quite disgraceful, and certainly indicative of the managerialim that seems to have overtaken the probation service. Glorified admin the job seems to have become - not working with offenders, but rather working with offenders' records. I am slightly bitter. I've spent over a year preparing for the application. Their loss..