Friday 31 July 2015

Latest From Napo 73

Here's the latest blog from Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence before he signs off for a couple of weeks. I don't know about you, but he sounds a tad defensive - I wonder why? I guess this is two fingers to the blog:-

"As I have consistently said since being elected as your General Secretary, one of my principal roles is to help to lead and direct the union, working alongside your National Officers and the Chivalry Road team within the accountability structures that are governed by our members."

Of course this bit begs the obvious question that the blog could be useful:-

"I often hear that one reason why people don’t use their ballot paper is because they don’t know the candidates. I always say: phone or email them and find out what they stand for."

I've heard certain candidates have been ignoring requests for information. Finally, I hear on the grapevine that members continue to leave in droves but:-

"we have issued an all members mail out this week which contains encouraging news about the status of our Direct Debit (DD) Campaign."

If you are Napo member in any of the six Sodexo owned CRC’s you should have by now had a circular from Napo, together with an indicative ballot paper that you can send freepost or by e-mail to Chivalry Road (

As I have consistently said since being elected as your General Secretary, one of my principal roles is to help to lead and direct the union, working alongside your National Officers and the Chivalry Road team within the accountability structures that are governed by our members. The other is to follow the direction of our members in terms of the strategy and tactics that you want me to pursue on behalf of your interests.

The Sodexo (is it severance or is it redundancy?) debacle, together with the failure of the company to respond to repeated questions from us to clarify their shabby and disrespectful offer, means that we are now asking Sodexo CRC members to give us a clear steer on whether or not we should move to a formal ballot for industrial action.

Reports reaching me from workplace meetings that have been taking place this week are encouraging in terms of what members are saying about the issues and the positive response to Napo and Unisons efforts.

Napo has acted entirely properly in trying to engage with Sodexo and their CRC senior managers and its good news that members are aware of what we have been doing and are supporting it. One thing is very clear already and that’s the level of contempt for the parent company amongst the workforce.

If you are a Sodexo member then please make your voice heard. We at Chivalry Road are the few, but our members are the many and we simply can’t do it all ourselves.

National Officers

If you are a Napo member anywhere then you also have an opportunity to vote in the current elections for the two National Vice-Chair vacancies.

Anyone standing for elected office at whatever level is showing their willingness to be out there, wanting to do their best for members. If they are prepared to do that then I would hope that those same members will spend just a few minutes and do their best to take part in the ballot. I often hear that one reason why people don’t use their ballot paper is because they don’t know the candidates. I always say: phone or email them and find out what they stand for.

Pay update and Mileage and Subsistence

We have just issued Branch Briefing’s covering these issues (Pay: see BR /83/2015) and will be sending out more news for members over the next couple of weeks.

The Mileage and Subsistence policy will come into effect from 1st August but as it says in BR/84/2015 it needs endorsement from the NNC and some accompanying guidance for staff and a Probation Instruction which ideally ought to be written in a language that we might all understand.

When the NEC gave it’s ‘in principle’ agreement to the final negotiated position earlier this year, it didn’t expect that all members would be ecstatic about it, but considered it was the best that could be achieved by negotiation. Nor did they expect that it would have taken NOMS several months to launch the policy and then spring it on the unions so soon to August. That they did so without letting us have sight of the guidance that it has also issued to managers is sloppy to say the least; and we were as surprised as anyone about the August start date, which we are told is out of their hands because they wanted staff to see the potential tax implications around the HMRC dispensation rules. It would have been good to have known that earlier of course.

Nevertheless, we have secured a commitment that the policy will need NNC endorsement and amendments to the NNC handbook, and that we should conclude discussions on those aspects by the end of August. Meanwhile, members are asked to refer written enquiries to Napo via their NEC or Branch Representatives whilst we are thinner on the ground than usual due to summer leave commitments.

Check off news

Finally, (and before I check off for a couple of weeks - anything but leisurely - holiday with five of my seven grandchildren) we have issued an all members mail out this week which contains encouraging news about the status of our Direct Debit (DD) Campaign. Its good progress to date, but as you can see there is still hard work to be done.

By signing the mandate to make the switch across and encouraging others to do the same (even maybe by volunteering to be point of contact for the Branch), you will be sending out a loud and clear message to other members that Napo are here, and working hard for its members in the face of a relentless agenda, and that we intend to be around for a long time yet.

Enjoy the remainder of the summer.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Napo Elections

Never mind the Labour Party leader elections, there are posts up for grabs in Napo, so here's a look at who's standing and why. Interestingly, I don't see anyone who feels some reform might be necessary, let alone serious retrospection, but the statements just might stimulate a bit of a discussion. As before, there's an open offer to any candidate to write something on the blog, but history tells us not to hold our breath.  

Election of Probation Vice-Chair

Barry Adams 

Candidate's Branch: South Southwestern
Nominated by: South Southwestern
Grade: Probation Service Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male 

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I have held a number of Branch Executive posts most recently Vice Chair, and for a number of years NEC representative. I have completed the TUC representing Members stage 1 & 2, and more recently completed the Employment Law Certificate. I have served on Napo H&S Committee, Chair TUO, currently elected as a member of the Finance Sub Committee.

Section (b)

I am tenacious, passionate about our Trade Union and will provide full and transparent reporting to our NEC. I actively support our values of fairness, anti-discrimination practice. diversity and equality. We have professional dedicated Members within Cafcass, NPS and the CRC. We must keep foremost our commitment to equality and our minority colleagues need to be assured their voice will be heard and Napo will turn words into meaningful actions. Our key role is to protect the Public as we protect both our values and our Terms and Conditions of Service. We must work to retain and increase our membership and hold both politicians and Senior Management accountable for their actions. My commitment to our Members is to make our Union strong, to unite under our common values, to move forward with our National Representatives to maintain and to continue to provide advice guidance and first class representation. I am confident with your support we can once more be a strong accountable Union.

Chas Berry

Candidate's Branch: Kent Surrey and Sussex
Nominated by: Kent Surrey and Sussex, Essex
Grade: Probation Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I am currently National Vice-Chair (probation) following my election by the NEC in 2014, and l am link officer for the Midlands as well as for the professional and Campaign Committees.

I have been a Napo member since joining Kent probation as a TPO in 2OO7. I became a Kent Branch Executive Committee Member in 2010 and served on both the JNCC and the UGM from 2011 until the end of the Trust in 2014. l was Vice-Chair of Kent Napo in 2012 and Chair in 2013, attending the NEC as 2nd rep. During the early stages of the TR campaign I was elected to the National Industrial Action planning Group.

Prior to joining Kent Probation and Napo I was a civil servant in the DWP and member of the public and Commercial Services union (PCS). Over a 19 year career I held numerous posts as local rep, Branch Secretary, Branch and Area 'Whitley Rep' responsible for industrial relations across the DWP in the South East of England.

I was President of Medway Trades Council from 2O07 to 2014 and on the Steering Committee of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) from 2O14 to 2015.

Section (b)

The late Bob Crow once said, "if you fight, you may lose; but if you don't fight you will always lose". Napo's heroic campaign against TR was defeated, but I strongly believe we achieved more by fighting on all fronts than by opting for the 'damage limitation' strategy advocated by some other union leaders. Our combative approach held up Grayling for twelve months and won important protection for most staff at the point of transfer.

Of course, we now face the challenge of budget cuts in the NPS, redundancies in the CRCs and wholesale attacks on the union designed to restrict our ability to function. We can give in to this intimidation or we can dust ourselves down, secure our future strength in numbers through direct debit and re energise the membership to fight future battles.

The Government has a vicious agenda but it is numerically weak and can be defeated if we take joint action where it is in our common interests, such as in opposing the latest round of anti-union laws. lam a member of the Socialist Party and was one of over 600 candidates who stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) on 7th May. l see the struggle to defend our terms and conditions as members as inseparable from the struggle against austerity, for justice and for a fair society.

Charron Culnane

Candidate's Branch: Greater London
Nominated by: Greater London
Grade: Probation Officer
Race/Gender: Other Heritage background/Female

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I am a Probation officer sifted to the NPS and work in Camden and Islington. I entered the Probation Service in 2004 and joined Napo on my first day in the office. I became more actively involved when I was elected as Disabled Staff Liaison Rep for Greater London Branch (GLB). During this time I was responsible for campaigning and raising the profile of disabled staff to support their involvement in the Branch. I represented members as part of this role and was also involved in consultations and discussions with the (then) LPT Equalities Dept and the Assistive Technology Forum. I served 2 terms of office in this role.

I was elected as Anti-Racism Officer/Equal Rights Officer for GLB in 2011. I was also active in the National Disabled Staff Network (NDSN) as Regional co-ordinator for London.

National Posts: I served on the Equal Rights Committee for 5 years, 3 years as Chair or co-chair and I have been (Co) Lead Monitor at the last 4 AGMs. This year I was elected to Professional Committee and I also sit on Steering Committee.

Section (b)

As a disabled, non white, working class woman of a certain age I have experienced many forms of discrimination throughout my life. I have a proven history of challenging and fighting discrimination and oppression wherever I find it. The barriers I encounter give me strength, make me solution focused and a creative problem solver.

The fragmentation of the Probation Service following the TR process has seen Equalities slide down the agenda on both sides of the divide as other terms and conditions of employment and practice delivery have taken precedence. The split has also left Napo facing a future with difficult choices as our membership scatters across larger numbers of employers. This has been made more difficult with check-off. United we are strong, divided we become voices in the wilderness. If elected I will continue to work tirelessly to keep our Union strong and help build up our membership.

A vote for me will ensure that Equality remains on the agenda regarding professional and working practices and remains central to any changes to the way our Union works.

Richard Bach wrote "people need problems because of the gifts they bring". I believe inclusion begins at home. A vote for me could be a problem for 'big Napo' as changes will have to be made to our HQ and/or working practices as I currently cannot access Chivalry Road! Please vote for change.

Election of Probation Vice-Chair (Finance)

Mona Lim 

Candidate's Branch: South Southwestern
Nominated by: South Southwestern
Grade: Probation Service Officer
Race/Gender: Chinese/Female 

Candidate's Statement 

Section (a)

I have been a Napo activist for nine years and have been involved in campaigning issues. Relevant Experience:-

  • LAGIP Conference, 2006 
  • Women in Napo Conference, 2006  
  • TUC Women's Conference as Acting National Link Officer, 2008, 2009 
  • Acting National Treasurer, 2008-2009 
  • Equal Rights Officer, 2008-2009 
  • Anti-Racism Officer, 2009, 2010 
  • Branch Treasurer, 2010, 2011 
  • Branch Vice-Chair (Temporary), 2014 
  • Branch Treasurer, 2014, 2015 
  • National NEC Co-Rep, 2014, 2015
  • Reps support learning and assisting work. 
Education and Training:- 
  • GFTU and certified TUC education in equal rights and representation. 
  • Work experience in accountancy and taxation 
  • Degree in law.
Section (b)

I have proven experience and knowledge of branch financial affairs, having reviewed and prepared financial statements for many years. My activism includes:-

  • attendance at National AGM 
  • delivered National Treasurer's Report at AGM 
  • actively engaged on staff sub-committee panel. 
Contributed to Napo's modernising agenda, therefore I can take up the finance role immediately and work to protect Napo from its current financial risks.

I want to ensure Napo survives, defeats its latest ordeal, make sure unions have a life and future under the Conservative agenda.

Speaking as a female, minority group member, underrepresented within the NPS and CRC structures, and higher union positions, this is a tough role which needs someone who can make difficult decisions. I want to encourage other minority members within Napo to stay in the fight together.

I want to protect jobs in the face of severe cuts, making sure there is full integration of our membership in Cafcass, far flung branches and co-terminus groups are secured in funding.

Maintaining professional qualified assessments for offenders, safeguarding for vulnerable people, ensuring child protection and family court services are not neglected. All branches remaining united. This is our strength! Napo, the only union that puts survival and professional delivery of the job at the core of our work.

I want to contribute to this cause on members' behalf.

As your Vice-Chair, I will ensure there are sufficient funds to protect our members' interests, investing our reserves wisely for all contingencies.

Chris Pearson

Candidate's Branch: Essex
Nominated by: Essex, Kent Surrey and Sussex, Staffordshire and West Midlands
Grade: Senior Probation Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male 

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

Probation worker since 2002
Napo member since 2002

Positions Held within Napo

  • National Chair (lnterim) 
  • Local workplace organiser 
  • Branch Vice-Chair 
  • JNCC member 
  • NEC member 
  • National Negotiating Committee member 
  • Member National Workloads working party 
  • Member NEC reform working Party
I have also held the following posts:
  • Chair of primary and secondary school governing bodies 
  • Leader of a large local authority 
  • Secretary of a local Shelter group 
  • Governor of local adult community college 
  • Local Councillor 
I have worked in the private and voluntary sectors as well as the public sector. Trade unionist all my adult working life. 

Section (b)

Our Union has been struggling against the most serious threat from a government that appears hell-bent on putting the public at risk as they drive ever onwards with their 'public sector bad, private sector good' mantra.

As national Chair last year I was proud to take the fight against privatisation to the limit. Unfortunately, our small union wasn't able to take on the might of a government determined to push through TR no matter the cost. Now more than ever you need a union to promote your interests in the most difficult of circumstances, defend public safety and secure jobs.

This isn't an easy time for Napo: organisationally, politically and financially. This government has made clear its intention to assault unions through limitation of facility time and removal of check-off for subscriptions. l believe it is essential the union has a Vice-Chair (finance) who:
  • understands finances
  • will properly account to the NEC for all expenditure
  • has experience of managing budgets up to £millions
  • will ensure comprehensive and fit for purpose financial regulations
  • and will focus expenditure on protecting members' futures 
I joined Napo just weeks after starting in probation, have held local branch positions and was a member of the NEC for many years. When the need arose last year l stepped up to take on the role of Chair to steer the union at a critical time. 

Our union needs strong leadership across the Officer group at this time. I offer such leadership, with experience of managing large finances.

Keith Stokeld

Candidate's Branch: Staffordshire and West Midlands
Nominated by: Durham Tees Valley, Family Court Section, Thames Valley
Grade: Probation Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male 

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I have been a Napo member for 25 years and worked in a variety of Probation roles including in the community and institutions.

Throughout my career in the Criminal Justice System I have worked in London, the North East and after leaving my post as a Court officer I moved to NPS in Birmingham.

After becoming active as branch chair I served on a number of National Committees before being elected as National Treasurer. Previously I was National link officer with the Midlands and Thames Valley regions and link officer on the editorial board for the Probation Journal.

In addition to chairing the Union Learn Steering Group I have acted as chair at the National Reps Panel and form part of the Staff JNC.

I was interim director of the Probation Institute during its formation.

Section (b)

Throughout my tenure as National Treasurer I have been privileged to work on behalf of the Union in respect of a brief designed to retain Napo's financially viability.

The challenge has been to achieve more than can be acknowledged on the simplistic basis of a balance sheet. I have strived to include our union's values which do not have a price tag and answered for these when called to account.

Being accountable has informed the decisions I have taken and shaped my drive to temper my passion for progress with pragmatism.

Napo faces a number of challenges and in consultation I have sought to ensure these can be met through some bold decisions in preparation for the future.

These changes will make Napo viable as we face the threats of the last administration and its legacy into the coming years. I am focused on retaining our income and by using my time to ensure Napo is best placed to achieve a balanced programme.

Having gained experience from my time as National Treasurer I wish to use my skills to fulfil the post of vice chair to ensure Napo functions as a Union for members in Probation and Cafcass.

My appetite for the post has increased following my success in developing members' service in securing Napo's access to a Credit Union. By balancing my Probation work with the vice chair's post I will continue to strive to retain members confidence to fulfil my role as an officer of the union

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Guest Blog 43

Reform is a right wing think tank that specializes in pushing the case for the privatization of the public sector. Of all its monies 70% comes from companies and 30% from the general public. Reform’s donors include corporate giants such as the General Healthcare Group, BMI Healthcare and BUPA Healthcare, all of whom would benefit from the selling off of public run services. The head of Reform (Nick Seddon) was also Head of Communications at Circle partnerships which describes itself as 'Europe’s largest healthcare partnership’ and is one of the great beneficiaries of the privatisation of the NHS. 

In 20012 the company took over Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust the first time that an NHS hospital was handed over to the private sector. Seddon has written articles that call for the sacking of 150,000 NHS workers, real term cuts to the NHS budget and charges for GP visits. He has also called for healthcare to be 'largely funded by the government but organised outside the government' by insurance companies and other organisations.

Early in 2013 Reform published research endorsing the privatisation of Britain’s prisons, a policy from which even the Conservative-led government had been edging away. The report was widely cited in the British Media; the BBC flattered it by describing it as ‘thought provoking’. But what was not mentioned was Reform’s substantial funding from security firms G4S, SERCO and Sodexo – companies that were already running 14 prisons and stood to benefit from further privatisation. In 2012 alone Reform received £24,500 from G4S and £7,500 from SERCO.

In 2013 Seddon left Reform to become Cameron’s new health advisor!!!

Madson Pirie, a free market fundamentalist, and his outriders, the followers of Hayek, have not just moved mainstream - they are the mainstream. They have made ideas that were once considered ludicrous, absurd and whacky become the new common sense. They have shifted the ‘Overton Window.’ What was once whacky becomes normal and even moderate. Thatcher did not dare threaten the privatisation of the NHS but eventually after years of Thatcherism and then son of Thatcher ‘Blairism’, this was turned into a theoretical and actual reality by the last coalition government no less. They have laid the foundations of right wing radical ideas and then popularised them, with their friend Murdoch, to a mass audience. The national political conversation is kept relentlessly on the terms favourable to those with wealth and power. The Private Sector is good the Public Sector is bad – ‘four legs good two legs bad!’ (Orwell)

Tax credits could be seen as a state subsidy to private companies that pay low wages and they are now being reduced; housing benefits go to greedy Tory landlords. Douglas Carswell, the UKIP MP, refers to an oligarchy of corporate cronyism that the traditional shire Tories find revolting. The state therefore is the backbone of scrounging corporate capitalism, subsidising wages, bailing out banks and paying for private sector profit making organisations to terrify benefit recipients. 

ATOS (with a £500 million ‘scrounge’ off the taxpayer) means testing the disabled who are ‘bullied off benefits’ many of whom appeal successfully (over 50%) and many others who committed suicide. ATOS simply walked off the job retaining its profits. SERCO (Group 4? – what’s the difference they are all Tory shareholders) and the Olympics – original contract £7.3m then stretching to £60m (G4S) then couldn’t do the task it had been paid to leading to three and a half thousand tax payer paid soldiers being drafted in to finish the job. 

A4E in 2004 was paid £200m of tax payers money – all its income coming from the public purse - a total scrounger - terrorising people back to work. The Chief exec had £8.6m in stocks and shares, £365k per year in salary and was renting out her 20 bed mansion to her own organisation (conflict of interest?) whilst abusing, insulting and sending people to work at Poundland for free and making lots of other workfare people go to companies with close ties to the Tory Party, acquiring no skills in the process, but providing free servile labour. And the Mandatory Work Activity Scheme leading to no work later on; in fact less work than those who obtained work whilst on benefit

G4S, SERCO and Sodexo get over half their income from the state – 3 huge scroungers! (£4 billion to SERCO, G4S, Atos and Capita alone). The National Audit Office says that of £178 billion of public funds, over half is earmarked for the private sector. Even police services (and probation) have and are being taken over. Care in the Community opened up massive contracts to private care homes, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI)  swindle will cost future generations up to £301 billion and £20 billion of £95 billion of existing NHS monies are ready for the big P!

Nigel Lawson once said that the NHS was the nearest thing that the English had to a religion! Codex cleaners are earning half the wages they had 20 years ago - insidious - cleaner on 18 hours leaves and is replaced by one on 16 hours doing the same work or perhaps more! NHS is now contracting out the actual commissioning! Privatising the commissioning so that they can give it to themselves! Recently Surrey contracted out £500m, Peterborough £1.1 billion, much of the work going to Tory donors and as one Dr (Chand would you believe) said ‘If it does not generate profit it does not wish to know..............there is now cherry picking of elective surgery.........2 tier service’

These are the real scroungers sponging off society taking vast sums of tax payers money, producing reduced and poorer services, reducing codes and conditions of service and generating millions and billions to their shareholders (who are these we might ask? The haves and the have yachts?) whilst refusing to pay their proper taxes themselves. There is a programme on TV called Benefits Street but as yet no programme called ‘Tax Dodger St’ or ‘Off Shore Account St!’ Lastly, what about the Serious Fraud Office launching an enquiry into G4S and Serco after they allegedly over charged the tax payer for tens of millions of pounds of tagging that never took place?

I have seen a general election that was won outright, surprisingly, by the Tory Party that now has a working majority of 12 seats. The election exposed a democratic system that is anachronistic and unrepresentative given that UKIP had nearly 4 million votes and got 1 seat, the Greens over a million and 1 seat and the SNP got 57 seats for 1.5 million votes. If you look at the majorities of the Tories 12 most marginal seats, you will see that they have in fact a working majority of 1250 votes from all 12 combined! In certain countries people would be taking up arms at such unrepresentative injustice. 

Nonetheless, despite this lack of democracy the ‘winning party’ is embarking on a scorched earth policy of replacing the entire public sector with the private sector over the next 5 years and during the last 5 years the gap between rich and poor has widened on historically unprecedented levels; one million people attended food banks last year whilst 1000 people currently own £520 billion between them. George Osborne announced the other day that we will now be able to sell our houses for a million pounds without paying a penny of inheritance tax and in the same breath he is removing child benefits for every child after 2 and has announced cuts to the welfare bill of £12 billion pounds. You could almost see him taking it from one poor pocket and stuffing it into a rich one!

So it would be nice to think that the new Criminal Justice Companies would be ethically inclined in the delivery of its criminal justice service without a pre-occupation with making profits at all costs. A service that would look to diverting people wherever possible away from the criminal justice system and one that would shield the service users from the harsh judicial excesses that are possible under the 2003 CJA and now the 2014 ORA Act. A service that uses new technology appropriately and sparingly to deliver justice and evidence based interventions that work in reducing crime and the number of victims within society. Also a service that respects the high quality of its existing staff that will also seek to maintain its standards and conditions of service in order to attract personnel of similar quality and ability in the future.

But there is also the possibility during the next 5 years that we will get massive judicial inflation - selling goods (Court Orders and TAGs etc) that nobody needs to generate profits from people who do not need to go on orders or be Tagged; a large rise in the prison population as sentencers can now get prison plus supervision (something suggested in New Labour legislation in 2003 but not affordable – remember custody plus?); ‘sharper axes for lower taxes’ ie reduction of codes and conditions of service, replacement of staff with personnel that do more for less and possibly with reduced or no qualifications ‘better for less’; the blurring of the distinctions between the professional and other workers and what work can and cannot be done with and by whom (PSOs become DV experts in an afternoon?); the achievement of a manipulated key Performance Indicator (KPI) rather than the delivery of a professional service. 

Lastly, an organisation that leaves a criminal justice detritus, that is unreformable, to rot, whilst simultaneously cherry picking and making claims of success following interventions with a population of net-widened entrants who should never have been intervened with in the first place!

So 150,000 NHS workers - how many Probation Officers I wonder? Apart from that, everything is hunky dory! You can only say it as you see it. 


Tuesday 28 July 2015

Latest From Napo 72

This posted yesterday by General Secretary Ian Lawrence on the Napo website:-

A senior manager slams Sodexo

As the unions finalise our plans to consult members in the Sodexo CRC's over the severance offer, here is a message passed to me by a colleague from a senior manager who understandably wants their identity protected.

There are occasions when the addition of a commentary would be counter intuitive. This is one of them.

"I know you and your colleagues are managing the current negotiations with Sodexo/MoJ/NOMS re EVR and do not underestimate the challenges you are facing in any way - but I just wanted to put a human take on the impact on my staff of Sodexo’s approach to “reductions/efficiencies”. .

Firstly staff feel completely betrayed and let down by Sodexo and the CEO – in my area staff cannot understand why in the other 5 Sodexo CRCs there are still some staff who have been given the EVR scheme on last year’s terms, are still working in the CRC and have had contracts extended to 2016. It appears they have the best of both worlds.

The “oversupply” terminology being used by CEOs (i.e. Sodexo) makes people feel like commodities such as kettles, or cups/plates – my staff are none of the above.

Secondly staff believe that Sodexo is trying to get rid of people on the cheap and through the backdoor via this new “voluntary severance” package – significant concerns relate to the fact that the CEO at a recent meeting could not answer questions posed regarding the difference between VS and VR e.g. impact on benefits, taxation, credits etc. Staff are totally confused and don’t know what is their best option – they also do not know where they will be based as the estates strategy is behind schedule.

Thirdly, staff are upset that there is very little recognition of the “personal impact” of Sodexo’s approach – there is nothing on the table as to what will be made available to people to move on, get new jobs, deal with current personal impact etc - staff cannot understand why such support has not been made available before now.

A local story – there is a PO who has been placed “at risk” and works p/t, but today was doing work on their day off to support a recall application – somewhere in this adversarial environment the professionalism and commitment of staff is not appreciated or recognised.

I just want to conclude by saying I have a wonderful staff group in my location , of whom I am extremely proud , who go way beyond the call of duty for me all the time and who are committed to rehabilitation, public protection, community safety and restorative justice agendas.

I wish Sodexo could understand and recognise this – and begin to recognise what they are at risk of losing."

Saturday 25 July 2015


Can't we just sack this Ian lawrence or better yet, just cancel your membership. Like anything, if you don't like the service, then stop paying. Would you go back to a restaurant every month to buy food you don't like? No, so why pay subs as it's clear NAPO doesn't work for you. Napo, like Sodexo, serves for the interests of the few. 70k a year. I bet he is laughing his ass to the bank every month. I'd love to know what expense claims he is making for all of these meetings with Sodexo chiefs. Freedom of information request anyone?

Ian Lawrence is again as most of the time bloody wrong. You should tell every member to hold tight don't apply for any Sodexo offer. Make them make us redundant and you set the funds free to take each or all cases to court. You apologise for ex CPOs what a daft thing to do. They do not pay your salary so you don't feel sorry for the enemy. They are the lick spittle group getting paid handsomely. When is you 5 years up? Anyone could better than your attempts to play a bit too fast and loose.

NEC, read this and get a grip on the free hand of this top table outfit they know nothing demonstrated by the way this is managed. Anyone who works in this field should not be writing out how they did or didn't negotiate properly. What did he expect? They are not going to roll over and play tickle my tummy. Ian Lawrence learn to swim or get back to the shallow end.

Ian Lawrence has proved he cannot tread water, let alone swim, completely out of his depth from start to finish.

All this anti Ian Lawrence stuff again and again - always from anonymous people - seems to me most are trolls - the volume of negativity which is pretty meaningless and I suspect is aimed at further lowering the morale of folk who are under attack and feeling vulnerable.

It makes no sense - surely probation and social work folk know better than to keep on rubbishing people who they want to achieve better things - that is totally un probation and un social worker like - why would they lose all professional sense when they write (anonymously) in social media?

You will know as well as anyone out here in anonymous-land that we need a scapegoat. IL is paid at least £70k a year, his pitch was that he was a union man. Many members clearly don't feel they've had a fair representation from this self-proclaimed professional. Numerous mistakes, errors of judgement, poor performance have been highlighted. A recent appearance of his at a meeting with senior CRC managers was described to me as "cringe worthy" & "benign". His blogs have been self serving & smug whilst members see their careers disappearing at a rate of knots.

People are ANGRY. IL is the Napo figurehead. It ain't rocket science.

You were lucky, you received effective representation from a particularly well informed & proactive rep. You have praised R before on here, & rightly so. I had piss poor representation from a local rep who was in pocket of management & received no support from IL or national union when it was brought to their attention. I previously withdrew my subs when a colleague was maliciously accused of behaviour which was totally unfounded & for which they were suspended & then found innocent but... the malicious accuser received an ex gratia payment of mortgage-clearing proportions.

Todgergate didn't help Napo's credibility.

I'm no fan of mindless abuse but I understand the vitriol aimed at Napo HQ & at IL. Some of it is mine. He's paid & paid well to do a job. This is an independent blogsite, not napo-land. Jim looks after his blog, is particularly liberal & has a keen eye for the troll.

I'm about to lose my job in a CRC. You have made many helpful contributions which I have variously enjoyed & appreciated, but your career ain't on the line this time. Napo & IL have a lot to answer for, and they have a duty to provide those answers.

In discussing the performance of Napo and issues of accountability, it's inevitable that mention is made of the general secretary. I agree he should not be personally abused or scapegoated for the failure of the unions in probation to stop TR or secure an impregnable framework agreement. The unions, with the odd exception in some sectors, are weak across the economy. This reflects the success of neo-liberalism, not the uselessness of trade unions.

Replacing IL would not revive the fortunes of Napo and to think otherwise is a triumph of hope over experience. It is arguable whether the union leadership could have done more to raise the consciousness of its members to the dangers of TR and the necessity of solidarity in opposition to the threats posed. But, unfortunately, the solidarity, as demonstrated in turnout in ballots and support on the ground for industrial action, was not there.

Intuitively it was tempting to think that a workforce within a politicised justice system, would have been politically savvy and smart enough to see solidarity as being in their self-interest. But it would seem that the workforce was atomised and unable to collectively see what was in front of its nose. It is impossible for any trade union leader to lead when so few are prepared to follow. If you believe in 'The Great Man Theory', then IL should go, but if you take the view that it's the wider social trends and conditions that enable leaders to make an impact, then no leader without supporting structures can achieve anything. The failure of Napo is a shared failure.

He is a public figure, the self proclaimed tough leader who says a lot about 'not on my watch'. Sadly it's all happened on his watch and his alone. It is his responsibility and at his pay grade to ensure the best advice and hardest risk warnings are properly orchestrated and warned to all NAPO members. Clear instruction to deliver action when required and why they needed to do it, no question. He did not and it fell apart. He did do a lot of fudging and JR shuffle lost and misled members on who won. Did not tell us the costs but AGM will out and the list goes on. Publish his success record against the negatives on this blog and there may be a debate. At this time however, he is a membership losing GS. It would be cheaper to see him go and stem the membership resignations as he puts the union at risk by staying. It is his ego that will keep him banging in the rhetoric, but in reality he must realise if the AGM start up and get angry and rightly so, the buck stops at his door.

I speak to many people who are of the opinion that he should not be in role now, if he is able to survive. Lets hope not for the good of NAPO members who are left. It is time to recognise we need a new direction or we are finished. He has said as much in his submissions to the NEC about selling Napo into a co-union merger. He did not go to members for permission on that either. Instead he flannels it through the non listening NEC in that 'what you want me to do' auto suggestion con the audience mode he uses. He says that is accountable. Wise up members.

Yea I get the feeling Jim and his disciples are anti Napo. Maybe they missed out on a shot at the big time and now use this forum to vent at what is wrong instead of suggesting what is right. On the flip side though, Jim et al are somewhat correct in wanting to hold Napo to account as they have let some members down badly. Not all, but some.


I've said it numerous times before and say it yet again - I'm not anti Napo, but I can't abide bullshit and bollocks. In the five years this blog has been running, there have been some regular themes in the 1438 published posts. If I key in the word 'dysfunctional' - not operating normally or properly' - I find it cropping-up in 39 posts, all about Napo. Take this for example from 2014:-

Yes a very good point and just another illustration sadly of the utter dysfunctionality of Napo at the top. A very unwise move politically in the middle of this struggle to add to all the other very unwise moves by other people at the top in Napo.

BUT we are where we are as they say and bad as it is we have to try and get the good ship Napo, holed and rudderless as it is, patched up and back steaming full ahead in the right direction. This can happen by the membership making their voices clear in a variety of ways, including this blog.

Things have improved - the information flow, for example by direct emails to members has vastly improved. After much prevarication, things are at last moving on Judicial Review, although it may be too late.

There's no doubt the Chair has made some unwise decisions, but while he remains Chair I think he must be supported and encouraged to make the right decisions, especially in getting a grip on the activities of the paid staff at Chivalry Road, exercise some firm leadership and make the most of Grayling's current difficulties. There's plenty of time for recriminations further down the line, starting at the AGM I suppose.

It's a bloody mess - but it's been a mess at the top in Napo for so many years it's almost like situation normal. The breakout of free speech just might improve things. Observant readers may have noticed that I've made mention of a dysfunctionality of leadership at the top of Napo several times. To put it bluntly, I think there are considerable tensions between Chair and General Secretary that require resolving. The AGM is a few months off yet, but it's absolutely vital we get firm leadership now and an action plan that can maximise on Grayling's current difficulties and especially with bidders getting cold feet for TR. 

What might an emergency 'Action Plan' consist of? 
  • Retain Harry Fletcher's services until October at least 
  • Employ an ethical PR company to assist Tania Bassett 
  • Recruit one or two front-line practitioners for media appearances 
  • Broaden the Campaign Committee membership 
  • Encourage as much dialogue as possible on new media platforms 
  • Keep the membership fully informed and engaged


As far as I'm aware, nothing happened. 

The blog continues to be both read avidly by Napo HQ, but at one of the same time studiously ignored publicly. Quite idiotic, but I've given up being bothered because the membership read it anyway. 

Unhappiness with the 'top table' is a very regular theme and here is a roundup of comments regarding Napo from May this year. I decided not to publish them at the time because the PO in me is always hoping for change, but it hasn't. In fact things are getting much worse with, I'm told, 70 members a month leaving. I would never advocate such a move because it's far more important to stay and have a voice both in elections and at the AGM. So, somewhat belatedly, as the AGM approaches once more and with elections ongoing, here's what was concerning readers just before the general election:-     

Ian Lawrence is a f*cking snake. "If some losses are unavoidable". As ever it's capitulation all the way while expecting us to be dumb enough to swallow the same old empty bullshit posturing. Why haven't we sacked him? F*ck you Lawrence.

I think NAPO are keen to wind the union up and doing everything in there power to cock things up.

I hold the full members of Napo responsible for not using their constitution to control the way their officers and employees work.

Napo centrally, still do not understand or use social media advantageously, by commentating on some developments as they happen and so to gain greater active support. That is the way the child sex abuse campaigners are working and folk like those at the Howard League led by Frances Crook, some former MPs as well. Even Russell Webster works like that, although as he continues, like the London CRC to block me on Twitter I wonder what his real motives are and in whose employ he is in.

You're wrong. 3 brave NEC reps tried to hold the errant joint chairs to account but were suspended. They were blotted out of events colluded with by the rest of their weak NEC colleagues. They had drama and as it in yet the NEC allowed the worst. No chance of getting membership in control.

Opposition is inevitable - but ultimately the totality of the membership 'owns' Napo. As for suspensions/dismissals I think there is a right of appeal ultimately to a general meeting - BUT - folk need to first have a sense of being responsible for the union(s) rather than as the Thatcher generation, may feel - customers - it is unlikely to change overnight but can happen.

Thank you. We really need those who have tried to stand up to Napo HQ in the past to get together and let us know what has been going on. Members are going to find it difficult to stand up to the General Secretary and others if we don't know what we're up against. Personally, I have heard and experienced enough to know I don't trust Napo HQ but we need to build up a picture of where it is going wrong so we can decide what action is to be taken.

Indeed, but I have zero faith in members being able to use existing structures and procedures. The problems are endemic and structural and despite everything that has gone on over the last few years, there has not been the slightest sign that a bit of soul-searching and internal re-organisation is necessary. Given this, I can see no alternative but a campaign to unseat the General Secretary.

I'm with you. Members will need evidence of how things have been mishandled. Anyone willing to speak out will give us a starting point.

I am sick of those criticising Ian Lawrence. It's not him who's weak. It's us.

He is responsible for everything since his election he gets paid a lot more than you and I. At his level he won't take responsibility for anything. He has the skill of repeating himself all over the place with nothing new. It is a shame he inherited much more of a basket of problems than he could deal with. Ledger issues and 2 shop display model only joint chairs. One who fell off the perch with a publicised Court appearance although cleared had to go just in time. The other turned out to be a disguised collapsible prop neither with adequate experience or knowledge for the tasks in hand. The prop resigns amidst a number of his own scandals, blames everyone else but does not tell us the truth or the extent of the issues underlying his resignation. He had applied for ACE CRC mind, so with that judgement, workers were already defeated. Sadly they are to blame, we only had to vote for them and seal this fate. They need to be sorry, Napo members made the wrong choices.

Ian Lawrence was democratically elected to represent the people but the people (some) turn on him at every opportunity.#fickle

Not everyone who voted in the General Secretary election voted for IL, and just because he is in post does not mean we should uncritically accept how he is functioning in role. Just as we hold politicians to account, (also democratically elected) so we are within our rights as NAPO members to hold IL to account. It is not a question of being 'fickle'. 

I agree with above and the election percentage turn out was appalling. Hardly a majority of members for proper mandate. What do you expect us all to do stand and applaud what is happening to us? This is being done off the back of Mr Lawrence's agreement. No sign of never retreat nor surrender. There has been huge unprecedented disturbance with a chair resigning citing differences and still we have no real understanding of why. Not all of us are so accepting.

Yesterday someone mentioned that 3 NEC Reps holding the joint chairs to account were suspended. How can members find out more about this?

By asking your Branch NEC rep! Some reps were suspended temporarily for sharing confidential NEC correspondence regarding Napo staff to people who were not NEC reps and some who were not Napo members (probably in error when sending emails on to large number of people). NEC reps have as part of their role, responsibility on behalf of members to act as employers of Napo HQ staff which means they are privy to confidential info on occasion.

Ask the 3 that were suspended the truth not more of this subterfuge. They reasonably wanted to share with NEC reps a QA position of the chairs on Ledgergate payoff. The chairs in fear of their obvious failures, responded by suspensions. Don't believe anything but those victimised by their union.


These fractious discussions about the Napo leadership have a tendency to end up with blaming the membership in one way or the other:- 

If Napo have been on holiday for have the majority of its members. If Napo is weak that reflects its weak-willed members, the majority of whom never bothered to express their will through ballots. A union like the RMT regularly gets turnouts of 60-70%, Napo barely manages 40% and in electing its GS did not even manage 20%.

It may have been a different TR storyline if there had been some resounding support for the union through the ballot box. No surprise that Napo was perceived to have a weak mandate by the MoJ and the CRCs who are out to smash collective bargaining and spurn collective agreements.

Interesting to see the breakdown of the Sodexo workforce cuts; the re-badging of roles – Authorised Officers completes the divorce from any professional identity. The big cuts to programme facilitators, who just a few years ago, were in the vanguard of reducing offending, are becoming 'also rans'. Probation during the New Labour years was a massive job creation programme in itself as numbers swelled, role boundaries blurred and managerialism marginalised professionalism and new money flowed into union coffers.

Post split I do not know how exactly how many members Napo has in each sector but dealing with the CRCs across the country is going to stretch resources. I do not see a future for the unions in the CRCs as real players. I don't think it will be long before we start to hear of staff councils and other ploys designed to end any semblance of national collective bargaining. Before the ink has dried, Sodexo have shown their indifference to the flagship collective agreement, such is their determination to manage without hindrance from the unions – who they know are weak and thus, in the absence of collective protections, they will knock individual workers into whatever shape takes their fancy.

Will Napo have the resources to maintain a presence in the CRCs or would it be strategically wiser for a smaller Napo to focus on its NPS members?

Sound but sad analysis. As a former local rep I, along with my union colleagues at the time, tried to warn and prepare people collectively and individually for what we saw coming. Anyone reading about EVR at the time could see it was earmarked for a select few and no one else. Staff were up against a silent union and employer conspiracy with neither side wanting a staff exodus ahead of schedule. A schedule in the interests of future CRC owners. What did us local reps do? Took our own advice and planned our exit strategies and left to do other things. I did not want to leave the job I had done for decades but better to leave on your own terms and in your own time. What Grayling and NOMS have done to the Probation Service is an act of sheer ideological vandalism.

What does ideological vandalism mean Jim? Idiotic terminology from the above is laughable. Surely TR is more than ideological at this stage?

It means significant job losses for experienced, long serving & committed staff who have spent many years busting their bits in order to help ameliorate the damage & consequences of bullies, liars & cheats - and the service they work for has been handed on a gilt edged plate to bullies, liars & cheats. That's the ideological vandalism.


In the end though, isn't it about leadership? 

Leadership has been described as "a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". 

Stop Press

And so it goes on. We need a debate:-

I don't think the anti-Lawrence trolls have any credible argument here. The vitriol reserved for him is denied Ben Priestley and the GMB/SCOOP guys who were all present at the same negotiations. Anyone who has read up on SODALLOFYOU knows they have a well established anti-union ethos. Local Chairs, who were consulted throughout, were asked what the mood on the ground was. The negotiators are informed by that and not by the anonymous ranting that goes on here.

If you are negotiating with someone who ignores agreements, pushes the boundaries of legal process and is willing to disenfranchise it's entire workforce, you have a problem that all the table thumping in the world cannot address. IL is not perfect but he most certainly is NOT the problem here.

Friday 24 July 2015

Latest From Napo 71

Latest blog by Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence:-


Given the way in which this company have conducted themselves in their dealings with the unions over the last month or so, it's not a great surprise that they have refused to improve the severance scheme offer that they eventually published to staff in their CRC's on the 16th July.

As we have previously jointly reported and will be doing so again as regularly as we can, Napo, Unison and GMB have spent many fractious and exasperating hours (no, make that weeks) trying to understand precisely what it was that we were being presented with. Below is a truncated history of developments which sets out the real facts as to what has been going on.

Originally way back in June, the Sodexo representatives claimed that they were seeking to vary the NNC Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy terms which led us to challenge this using the National Negotiating Council Joint Secretaries who directed the parties to enter into substantive negotiations.

Its pretty clear now that Sodexo never had any intention of negotiating on their proposals since it was only on the 16th July that they told staff and the unions (without sharing their literature with us beforehand) that what CRC staff were actually being offered was not a redundancy scheme at all but a vastly inferior version of an early severance package.

Whilst I am prepared to accept that some of this was originally due to a lack of understanding on their part in that it was not just the operations, but the collective bargaining machinery that they had been sold, there has been plenty of time for them to reflect and come back with at least some improvement on their sub-standard offering.

That they have not, will raise real questions amongst members as to whether they even considered it.

Where next?

Its ironic that todays news comes four days after we met with Sodexo last Monday to urge them to reflect on the serious damage this approach will bring to staff relations, and our attempts to constructively engage with them and the CRC's under their ownership. Throughout this sorry tale they have constantly berated the trades unions for taking to long to respond but have deliberately delayed a response to see how many staff they can intimidate into making an application. I cannot tell people not to do so, but I can say its a con-trick of the highest order.

By the way, I actually have some sympathy with the CRC Chiefs in Sodexo's empire. Their traditional role of negotiating meaningfully with the unions has been reduced to that of being messengers of despair for the disingenuous profiteers who now run the probation services within their contract areas. How sad does it get?

In a climate where our members fear for their jobs and their families future, whilst being patronisingly told by Sodexo that the company can't afford full EVR terms, the company ought to expect their CRC staff to be livid about this situation.

The unions anticipated this eventuality, and I expect us to have finalised our plans to consult with our members on this despicable offer and the conduct of the CRC owners and test the water about the willingness for industrial action. As I said to members in Northumbria this week, it may soon be time to step up to the plate and use the only language that outfits like Sodexo really understand. As always, Napo's future direction on this will ultimately be guided by our members.

Finally, can I just mention that Napo members working in the Sodexo CRC's,should look out for more news on developments early next week. Please ensure that you speak with your local reps or Napo Link Official if you have questions or require further clarity about any of the regular information that the union publishes.

Thanks for your continuing support and loyalty in these desperate times.

Lets Not Be Gloomy

I am sorry if you feel all the comments on here are negative, and we don't want to frighten any other CRC's, but we all received our letters today in SYCRC and it stirs up negativity and it is a release to read and comment, which is better than doing it at work. Thanks to all the contributers on here as if you read the comments as they are intended it gives you the information that you need.

Lets not be gloomy. 24 years ago I qualified as a probation officer (& social worker at that time), having spent two years funding myself through university, with Home Office sponsorship & several jobs (shiftwork in a probation hostel, homeless shelter, Safeway shelf stacking, labourer for a local builder). Prior to that I spent 3 years in various roles gaining relevant experience & knowledge in order to qualify for the DipSW course. I had a young family, hardly saw the children as they grew up during those years - & endured a painful divorce as a direct result of selfishly focusing on developing a career rather than spending time & money on those close to me. Some bridges have since been repaired.

I'd like to think I've been a diligent, hopefully fair & effective PO. I've experienced some amazing things; as well as some terrible things. I've met some amazing & some terrible people. But hey, nothing as life changing as TR. In the space of 18 months it's taken me from the dizzy heights of an experienced, respected professional in a low-key but fascinating career to becoming 1 of 600 unemployed, unwanted, expensive cast-offs who even the trades unions & professional associations don't give a fig about.

So not only has the UK government sanctioned throwing their nurtured babies out with the bathwater, but they've brought in hired help to do it for them. They have charged 21 unknown entities £1 each for the privilege of joining in, then handed over more than £60M of public money - plus any publicly owned assets that were lying about.

But hey, lets not be gloomy. There's plenty to celebrate... isn't there?

Yes let's not be gloomy. In a slightly contrasting journey to yours, a few decades or so ago I was released from a juvenile detention centre. Overcoming the difficulties this entailed and working in numerous jobs ranging from cleaner to shelf stacker, I graduated from university as a postgraduate. Then I chose to go into rehabilitation work and after working with a few organisations I joined probation and was amongst the early TPO's to quality as a probation officer.

Fast forward not far off two decades or so and here I am working in this utter mess of what probation's become. It was bad enough enduring the sometimes appalling and egotistical management and appalling local policies under probation trusts. And I never had any faith in governments or unions either.

I won't say which side of the NPS/CRC divide I'm currently on but the choice does not bode well on either. We've all been on tender hooks from before TR and staff morale has consistently found new lows. The NPS is a place where we're dictated to with misplaced policies, jobsworth managers and directors, constant threat of dismissal for standing up for ourselves and now imminent cuts that will lead to job losses. The CRC's are badly managed shadows of probation where we're no longer called probation officers and lied to by more jobsworth managers in order to keep the ship afloat until we're made redundant without due recompense.

Same as you, I've had great experiences in probation, have had a lot of good colleagues, managers included, and have had loads of opportunities and have a great CV to boot. My life has changed immensely and like many I learnt the hard way how to reduce the work stress and the importance of shutting off when the work day ends and spending time with the ever growing family. Like many I thought the past sacrifices were worth it as I'd found my life's calling. Now I'm back to an uncertain future and at a time I've got more bills and responsibilities then I can calculate, and back to worrying about applying for probably new lines of work with a juvenile criminal record.

I've done good work, given 200% and I have made a change in the lives of many others and seen a lot of people change for the better. I've helped countless colleagues in becoming outstanding probation officers. I can also whip out a PSR, Oasys or parole report in no time at all, chair a meeting, stand up in court, instill ambition in the wayward, cheer up those fallen into the worst of circumstances, support a victimised person, even give a theoretical kick up the backside to those needing it, though I doubt how useful a skill this all is in the real world. I can't knock probation for the opportunity it gave me, but I also know I'm also just a statistic waiting for the end in an organisation and profession I don't really recognise any more.

TR, Sodexo, CRC, NPS, Napo, Grayling, Gove - it's all a crock of shite!!! So yes I try not to be gloomy, I'm trying not to encourage gloom to colleagues whom are rightfully gloomy, but there's just not much to celebrate within work right now.

Sodexo are shareholders for 6 of the 21 companies & are shedding about 600 jobs. So are we to expect job losses across the CRCs in excess of 2,000? I would guess 2,500 won't be far off the final figure. And the average salary will have dropped by some £5k at least. Does that change anyone's perception of the need to focus on the shitstorm that Sodexo are stirring, and its implications? Or of the anger being directed at the unions (plural) who seem to be pleased with their capitulation into negotiating about the "offer"?

Agree, likely to be over two thousand staff cut at the end of the day. Key questions - WHEN were these staffing numbers agreed, and by WHO - the government, or the bidders? At what point in the process were the staff cuts financially accounted for - before the bids were won, or after? Someone must know this information, who can say? Please tell. A bidder (successful, or failed) maybe can, or someone from MOJ? Unions - do you know? Anyone?

I realise it doesn't help us, the employees - either those losing their jobs, or the folk left to work in the new world with too few resources/people. Or indeed the offenders who are undoubtedly going to be massively impacted by the new operating models. But in the interests of transparency, I think we'd all like to know - when; who; and at what point? One simple sentence can answer all these key questions.

All agreed by the point of submitting winning bids. Sodexo have already admitted as much when they spoke of having planned to lose staff through compulsory redundancies 7 months after share sale (statement issued Apr 2015); as have MoJ when they speak of having budgeted for covering loss of resources (staff redundancy) from 'Modernisation Fund'. Selous said as much pre-share sale. Previous posts have highlighted these admissions in Hansard, in press releases, the weasel words & the timelines, I find it astonishing there's next to no interest in the media, or that the Unions haven't capitalised on the discrepancies, anomalies & lies.

It makes no difference now, but one thing that gets me is that probation chiefs, senior managers, SPO's, managers and Napo all knew this was going to happen. They have their senior management meetings where advance projections and decisions are shared, which is then shared in management meetings, what affects the staff is also shared with unions. At the last minute they tell us, when it's too late, and when senior managers and favourites managers already had their EVR in the bag. We all know this is why chiefs and senior managers all took EVR and early retirement prior to TR implementation 2014. Some of these charlatans probably even worked on the Sodexo TR bid too while they awaited their golden handshakes, consultancy jobs and OBE's.

It is what it is now. Can Napo advise on the legal aspects of current entitlement for "severance" and voluntary/compulsory "redundancy" based on the current situation, and the implications of taking either now or holding out.

I recall learning somewhere that what's being offered may not actually be received by all applicants, that those left would like fall under the compulsory redundancy axe, and that Sodexo would still have the "restructuring" option in its back pocket which could be used to end job roles fullstop - do not pass go, do not collect £200.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Severance or Redundancy?

I am very concerned that nobody seems to be acknowledging the different legal statuses between it being called voluntary "severance", as opposed to "redundancy". I am NOT a NAPO member, but in the information from them I have read on line recently, nowhere does the difference between these terms seems to have been mentioned, acknowledged - and indeed still seem to be being used 'interchangeably'. Please someone look at this and research it properly and act accordingly! It could make a big difference to people - especially the over 55s whether they accept voluntary 'severance', or are made voluntarily or even compulsorily 'redundant'.

Accepting 'severance' one is in effect signing away any rights - and are walking away from their job with their blessing. I believe this means you are no longer entitled to claim any state benefits for 6 months (someone more knowledgeable than me might wish to check/confirm that!). Redundancy however leaves you with a totally different status - your employer is putting you out of work.

I phoned Greater Manchester LGPS yesterday, and was told that anyone over the age of 55, who is made "redundant" (ie. NOT who has taken a severance deal!) is entitled to draw their pension, without loss or penalty (in line with what I understand they are 'offering' those who accept the severance). So for starters, if you were made "redundant" by your CRC and are over 55 - you get the pension anyway. Anyone of any age would get a 'statutory redundancy' payout - more the older you are, check the .gov website. And you would (I believe) be entitled to claim state benefits.

Therefore, surely if people do not sign the "severance" deal and the staff are going anyway, the CRCs will have to make people voluntarily or compulsorily "redundant" - which I accept for some (not all) may be less in actual cash. But it does at lease feel the more honest exit in principle.

If no one acquiesced to this "severance" in any of the CRC's I can see that Sodexo (or rather the CRCs Ltd) would then HAVE to go down the "Redundancy" path which would be MUCH more painful, for them. It also makes one wonder if the sudden change from "redundancy" to "severance" wasn't part of a little nod and wink deal with the Government, to reduce the loss of employment statistics (severance wouldn't count - we are all agreeing to it!), and a way of ensuring that 600+ people don't suddenly start claiming JSA etc.

Well said. I hope Jim features those comments in a main blog article.

I am only a 'common man' but as I think it through - severance is merely another way of saying accepted an invitation to resign - that is voluntarily surrendering one's employment contract - so for a start I would want the equivalent of whatever I might be entitled to claim as an unemployed person for myself AND my dependent family, for whatever time I am eligible to so claim PLUS as much as necessary to take account of my occupational pension in the long term AND a bit more as compensation for all the inconvenience involved.

Thank you and yes, I hope Jim does feature this issue about the differences between "Severance" and "Redundancy" somewhere prominent. I would be interested to see a Union response to the legal difference between "Severance" and "Redundancy" - any takers?

Frankly, I of course feel that the Unions should not be letting the employers 'off the hook' with the original agreed EVR - but that is a different issue - and anyway, once people have signed that "severance" deal they are off the hook with you, anyway - you've just agreed to walk away, with the offer - and are left with no rights at all. You and the CRC totally finished - the line drawn.

I'm concerned that people are going to 'sign their rights away' with this "Severance" offer, without it having been properly explained, or understood from a 'legal status' standpoint.
I feel that people are being hustled into signing this deal - with the very short window to submit 'expressions of interest'. I understand that most decent employers will pay for everyone to take proper legal advice before signing anything along these lines. Is that being offered by the CRCs Ltd, and if not, negotiated by the Unions?

Again I say - I am not in a Union, and am glad I haven't been paying them, as I don't see any of them acting in the sufficiently enquiring way I would expect and want for my dues. Sometimes and for some of us, it may be better to take NO ACTION. They want us gone - then let them make us redundant, and I mean "redundant".

Yes - no action - MAYBE right for some BUT only after gaining individualised legal & FINANCIAL advice to protect one's contracted rights and make the best of the situation as far as long term pension rights are concerned - which is likely to be different for different folk for a host of reasons.

This from Facebook:-

Chas Berry 'Can't be bothered anymore'? Bottom line is we are totally opposed to the job cuts and continue to be so. At the same time we have a duty to those staff who have had enough to secure the best terms rather than face compulsory redundancy which could be on a last-in-first-out basis. If you read the whole statement you will see WHAT ARE THE UNIONS DOING

Sad that dumbing down everyone's entitlement across six CRCs is seen as democratic. Three of the six CRCs embedded enhanced terms into their CRC t&c's. Insightful? Fortuitous? Planned? I don't know, but my CRC did just that. I'd like my terms & conditions honoured, thanks very much. Colleagues who left last year got preferential terms, some even got CRC jobs as well! NAPO could have advised CRCs to embed t&c's, in fact, they should have advised members of everything instead of playing this "I can't tell you" shit.

In deeply unhappy & shitty circumstances I have perfectly acceptable EVR t&c's which NAPO seemed determined to relinquish so that others can grab a few more pennies. 15 months' money for 24 years' unblemished service (& 24 years' fully paid up membership) is poor, but manageable. 7 months' money is derisory.

Reaction to Sodexo Offer 2

Another statement out from Napo and Unison today. I hope my first reading of this is wrong, but it rather looks like this: "We told Sodexo to pay EVR, they said no, so we're giving up and trying to bump the severance package up a bit." Nothing quite like holding a firm line in defence of your members. Wonder what happens when Sodexo decline to improve the severance package?

Sadly I fear you are right: "At the meeting Sodexo confirmed that it will not offer EVR, so we are now in discussions to improve the voluntary severance scheme that is on the table."

Fuck Right Off. You do NOT have my mandate to abandon my terms & conditions. You do NOT have my authority to leave my EVR in the pockets of greedy arseholes whilst offering me a handful of shit for over 20 years of professional contribution. I'd rather die penniless trying to achieve what's right than capitulate to these mofo's.

"We believe that the voluntary severance scheme falls far short of what Sodexo can actually afford..." - No Shit, Mr Lawrence. FUCK OFF & LET SOMEONE COMPETENT HAVE A GO.

This is a sorry post to read from a colleague and napo members. This is what many are saying and thinking. It has to be time for Ian Lawrence to be made to go. Members will want to see the back of him at the AGM. NPS members will not return and will go at check-off at Christmas. Suffering colleagues still pay NAPO wages and you have run the Union under with constantly failing decisions and poor judgement. A lot of tough talking and no real capacity to understand what was happening.

The total PR shambles has in part been orchestrated by a defence of a post holder who neither has the skills or abilities required of such a role - evident in the total silence and lack of any response in the press for the incredible Sodexo behaviour. I don't mean the EVR, I mean the sacking of brilliant staff who have worked incredibly hard and loyally to be dismissed when the risks to the public are not understood.

Not one PR release, yet a salary wasted that should be directed towards legal action for the breach of contract, yet it appears he is rushing back into a negotiating room to do what? He will agree a watered down worsening deal. Once agreed, it will be described as 'the best we could achieve' - rubbish and no doubt he will look for a pat on the back from some adoring top table fan club member.

Napo should have alerted members to what was to many an obvious total destruction of the probation services. The timing is the Transfer arrangement which NAPO agreed were such clear markers. Those members who do not have the experience of knowledge of these matters rely on that assessment from the Union. It never came in instead it was agreed by the leadership. Inevitably it is a rubbish agreement Napo brokered. Harry Fletcher was the last straight talking PR competent and he disappeared in a strange arrangement, yet the NEC let you Napo do that too.

Members of Napo will not be encouraged to attend the AGM part of this disincentive has been the claw back of funding support to for AGM. In fact this is an open wound now and many will turn up anyway calling for a leadership change with a motion of no confidence. The AGM will look to hold those in the top accountable not like the few at the NEC who adopt everything that is told them. It is a clear statement telling Napo there is no mandate for renegotiations. We would all rather see a fight and we all need to tell Sodexo sack us on compulsory terms and our union will take class action ETs.

NAPO need to act properly and instruct lawyers now. They need to consult members for a formal trades dispute. They need to spend the NAPO reserves in a way to consult on a national collective issue to ensure the rest of the waiting CRC companies don't just follow suit as they watch Ian Lawrence implode. What has happened to the chest beating mouthing off "not on my watch" rhetoric now? Currently what is being done is not what we want or would expect our Union leadership to be doing. Spare us this old spin again, again, again. Weak approach is what got us into this mess despite the re framing and Narcissistic reinvention of the facts Napo have given us.

It is time to see a lead, have a fight, get a legal claim going and protect the membership, not holding onto the money for reserved redundancies for NAPO. However this goes, lets hope Ian Lawrence goes as a result of members realising the spin and the bluster is all a sham. It's time to call him and hand him the redundancy he thinks is ok for us. I bet he will be asking for the full rate of his term under the codes of his employment. Does anyone know what he would be asking for so we can see if it is good enough for us, then we can adjust the terms in NAPO so they are good enough for him.

So that's that then. Napo failed AGAIN!

Failed to fight TR.
Failed to protect terms and conditions.
Failed to protect EVR.

Bottom line is that Napo got our subscriptions for doing nothing; Probation chiefs and managers got golden handshakes for selling us out; and we (the ones doing the work) got shafted AGAIN!

I'm sorry I just don't get Joint Union stance on this, but then I don't get much of what the Unions are doing anymore. My mandate for direct debit for Napo is dead in water, just like Napo's representation in CRC. Cannot help but feel Napo only want to retain NPS in the hope they can rebuild on a professional front, along with PI, selling out professional CRC members. If Ian Later Lawrence does not walk, he should be booted out and kicked from here to Mars.

From the Jan 2014 agreement: "National Collective Bargaining

21.​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.

22.​The MoJ has confirmed that the sale of shares in the CRC to the new provider does not constitute a TUPE transfer of undertakings as there is no change of employer, merely a change of ownership of the shares in the employer company. Following the share sale, the employer will continue to be the CRC and the relationship between the employer, recognised trade unions and employees is unchanged. Existing NNC and SCCOG National Agreements on Pay and Conditions of Service will therefore continue to be the terms and conditions for all staff."

"... there is no change of employer, merely a change of ownership of the shares in the employer company. Following the share sale, the employer will continue to be the CRC..."

Without agreement the terms & conditions can't change. So, if NAPO don't agree to any changes on our behalf, Sodexo can't change anything. They can sack everyone & re-employ on new terms & conditions. These are ACAS guidelines.

So why are NAPO negotiating with Sodexo? The six CRCs are the employers, not Sodexo. Sodexo are simply the shareholders, with the Sec of State as holder of a 'golden' share in each CRC.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Latest From Napo 70

This published on the Napo website earlier today:- 

Joint Napo/UNISON statement on Sodexo severance package

Napo alongside our sister trade unions met with Sodexo on Monday 20th July. At that meeting we raised a number of questions in relation to the voluntary severance scheme on offer in the 6 Sodexo owned CRC. We still believe that Sodexo should be offering redundant staff the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy (EVR) Terms, which are set out in the National Negotiating Council Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement.

At the meeting Sodexo confirmed that it will not offer EVR, so we are now in discussions to improve the voluntary severance scheme that is on the table. We believe that the voluntary severance scheme falls far short of what Sodexo can actually afford and that the ‘Sodexo offer’ for those over 55 is factually incorrect.

Below is link to the joint Napo/UNISON statement with contains further information and advice for members. Sodexo have also just confirmed that expressions of interest are not binding on individuals.

JTU 19-15 22 July 2015



Members of Napo and UNISON who work for one of the 6 Sodexo-owned CRCs will have been given details of Sodexo’s proposed job cuts and voluntary severance package on 16 July last week.


Sodexo proposes to cut the following jobs in each of its CRCs:

BeNCH: 49
Essex: 72
Cumbria/Lancashire 85
Norfolk/Suffolk: 82
Northumbria: 106
South Yorkshire: 32 

TOTAL: 436

Both unions have told Sodexo that we consider these cuts to be unsafe and we have written to the Justice Secretary to ask him to confirm whether he has authorised the job losses from the point of view of community safety. We will campaign against the job cuts which we believe are unsafe and unsustainable.


At the same time as announcing the job cuts, Sodexo confirmed that it would not be offering redundant staff the agreed Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy terms, which are set out in the National Negotiating Council Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement. Napo and UNISON are opposed to Sodexo undercutting the national agreement and have been in talks with the company over the last five weeks to find a resolution to this dispute.

Here is how the Sodexo offer matches up to the national agreement:

Sodexo Offer
2 weeks pay for each year of service up to a max of 30 weeks
For staff over 55, either the voluntary severance package, or retirement with an unreduced pension

National Agreement
4.5 weeks pay for each year of service up to a max of 67.5 weeks
For staff over 55, both the NNC voluntary redundancy package and immediate payment of an unreduced pension.


Over the last month, Napo and UNISON have been working hard to try to get a better outcome for members in relation to the job cuts and the voluntary severance package. We have:

  • Ensured that the Sodexo voluntary severance proposals were brought to the National Negotiating Council and NNC SCCOG rather than being negotiated at CRC level 
  • Met with the Justice Secretary Michael Gove to ask him to review the level of Sodexo job cuts and protect the severance terms in the national agreement 
  • Written to Sodexo and met with the company on many occasions to ask it to comply with the national agreement and to get Sodexo to clarify what exactly it is prepared to offer staff 
  • Got legal and policy advice on what Sodexo is obliged to offer to staff over 55 in relation to their pension rights on redundancy; we continue to seek clarity from the company on these matters 
  • Joined with Sodexo to ask NOMS whether CRC staff at risk of redundancy might be offered redeployment opportunities with NPS
  • Brought together Napo and UNISON representatives from all 6 Sodexo-owned CRCs to discuss our strategy 
  • Met with Sodexo on Monday 20 July to feedback members’ anger at the company seeking to undercut the national agreement on enhanced voluntary redundancy, and to ask Sodexo to reconsider their offer.


Napo and UNISON understand that this is a very difficult time for members in the 6 Sodexo-owned CRCs. You are now under pressure to express an interest in the Sodexo voluntary severance scheme by no later than 10 August.

At present, we are trying to get you a better severance deal than the one that Sodexo has put on the table. However, we cannot give you any guarantees on the outcome of our negotiations which are taking place on the offer under the auspices of the National Negotiating Council, or our discussions with the Justice Secretary or NOMS.We expect to be able to provide you with more information on the choices available to you in advance of the Sodexo deadline of 10 August for you to express an interest in their voluntary severance offer.

It is a matter for you whether or when to express an interest in the voluntary severance offer. However, under the circumstances, we advise you to await further advice from Napo and UNISON before you complete the expression of interest form. The reason for this is that the FAQ document from your CRC, which accompanied the expression of interest form, is ambiguous on whether you are committing yourself to take voluntary severance by completing the expression of interest form. We have asked Sodexo to clarify this as a matter of urgency.

We will issue further information when we have had a response from Sodexo to the various issues that were discussed with them earlier this week.

Yours sincerely

General Secretary National Officer Napo