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General Secretary's Blog - The struggle of our lives
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12/02/2013
  The struggle of our lives
Being entrusted with the role of Napo Acting General Secretary is a great honour, but events are moving at such a speed that there has been no time for the self-indulgence of celebration. I see my immediate objective as helping Napo through this temporarily difficult period by utilising the skills and the vast knowledge of all those around me, and my 40 years trade union experience, as we pursue the issues that matter to our members throughout Probation and Cafcass.

For if its' not already been made inescapably clear to all Napo members, we face the biggest singular threat to our survival at any time in our proud 100 year history as a trade union and professional association. The potential privatisation (around 70%) of core probation work, and a commensurate loss of Napo members' (and non-members) jobs by way of Secretary of State Chris Graylings' Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. It's a plan that has attracted diverse commentary ranging from 'ambitious' on the one hand, or having about as much substance as a beef burger on the other.

This is why your Officers and Officials and Staff have already turned all of our available resources into building and launching a major campaign of opposition that, for a union of our size, has already made a huge impact in the media and political circles; and its one which many local Napo activists have wasted no time in taking out to the wider public. One thing is already clear: and that is that this campaign will only work if we act in partnership at Branch and National level and support each other every step of the way.

Modern day campaigning methods demand that Napo takes advantage of new opportunities to get our message across; and last week I took part in a live 'on-line' debate hosted by the Guardian Public Leaders initiative. Here I helped to get our big messages across to a surprisingly large audience about the threats to probation. You can see the whole debate on #Probationinperil.

Further details of what we have done and when, appears on the Napo Campaign Blog and this will be updated as often as possible with fresh news. So please get everyone you know to sign up to the e-petition to stop privatisation and keep those stories and pictures rolling in so that others can see what you have been up to!

Out there... doing it for communities

Just how valuable our members work is, has been further amplified by last weeks BBC documentary 'Out of Jail and On the Streets'. I understand that some 2 million viewers were able to see the real deal in terms of what intervention and public protection actually means. I expect that by now many of those staff featured in the programme will be a tad weary of the accolades that have been flying their way; but their contribution to the programme surely epitomised the dedication and commitment that our members throughout the service demonstrate each and every working day.


Meanwhile in Cafcass

Whilst our Family Court Section members are not quite facing the potential meltdown scenario that Transforming Rehabilitation poses, we are at that time of the year when we wait with baited breath to see what the operational budget will be for the coming 12 months.

Put simply, its' about damage limitation with Cafcass senior management and ourselves trying to make representations to the Department for Education and its Ministers to make sensible decisions about resources. The withdrawal of legal aid and the still huge flow of private and public casework can only mean more pressure on practitioners, so a huge budget cut will spell more trouble.

The FCS Negotiating Committee will be monitoring the situation closely and further reports will follow as soon as there is more news.

The next six months

Is a long time in the world of politics and our members will decide (by way of a new General Secretary selection process) as to who will take us forward beyond that period. Whether or not that is me, you should know that I will give my all in trying to progress our members agenda with the same determination since being appointed as Assistant General Secretary to Napo some four and a half years ago. Thanks for logging in; and do make a habit of it won't you?

Ian Lawrence

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    Posted By: IanLawrence @ 12/02/2013 11:57 AM     General     Comments (0)  

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