Observations from members attending Napo Branch meetings are a precious commodity that anyone in a leadership position in our union should heed carefully. The above question/observation was just one of many valuable contributions that came from the floor of the West Yorkshire AGM that I was privileged to have been invited to address today in Leeds, but it somehow typified the feelings of many members about the damage that TR has done to the probation community.
At what was for me, a morale boosting gathering where the values and resolve of our members shone through, despite the pernicious assault on their profession that they are facing daily, it was clear that many members now have a disconnect with the collectivism and camaraderie that has been the bedrock of the service for so many decades.
Of course that is always what Grayling wanted, which is why he has embarked on his latest spin campaign about there being a robust and open competition for CRC contracts (yawn) and how we are entering an innovative environment (more yawning.) Divide and rule is a staple ingredient of the privatisation diet, and history shows that the more demoralisation that the architects can engender amongst the workforce, the better it sits with their insidious menu.
Of course this is why trade unions were formed in the first place and why they are just as relevant now as they were over a century ago. I am pretty sure that the debate in Leeds which followed the remark reproduced above and which featured the heart rending story below, will have resulted in everyone who was there going away with a renewed determination to prevent an irrevocable separation of the Napo family.
It's not always a success that keeps us all together, and at first glance the extracts from some e-mail exchanges below might appear to be unremarkable. These involve one of our members Angela Suggett, who could not be at today's meeting in Leeds because she has a terminal illness. Angela's story made the national press recently as an especially graphic example of the bureaucracy and incompetence that has permeated the NOMS/MoJ food chain following the imposition of the staff split.
Essentially, Angela approached Napo for assistance in the hope that NOMS would make a compassionate response to her wish to spend quality time with her family and have early access to the financial resources that she has earned over many years of loyal service.
You might remember me from my short time at City Courts and I'm now at Merchants House.
We are all thinking after you here and concerned that you are receiving all that you are entitled to at this crucial time.
Many of us read the story in the newspapers and I contacted Napo to make sure someone was pursuing the employers on your behalf. I'm assured that Mick Hooson is doing that with your head office.
Please let me know if that's not the case or anything that I could help you with. I've contacted MPs who have offered to assist if nothing is happening.
As I said you are in our thoughts and if there's anything I can do, just let me know,
Thank you David and to colleagues at Shipley. Napo are working hard on my behalf. What we need to ensure is that colleagues realise how important they join. I've been a member for 22 years and to be honest I would have been stuffed by MOJ if I hadn't been a member. Encourage people to join.
Once again thanks for your kind thoughts and those of colleagues. I am coping well at the moment and in good spirits. You know me, never a quitter.
So glad to hear that you are getting Napo's support. I had little doubt that Napo would be there for you. Everyone was asking here and there was a resonating 'Good!' when I relayed your message to colleagues who had been asking what was happening with this. They of course are rooting for you.
I think besides knowing that the union was there for you it had the secondary effect of knowing union membership was vital. So I do agree with your message of encouraging membership.
I'm at the conference in Scarborough in a few weeks, I can imagine it will be heated at times. We must stick together right now no matter the efforts by some to do the opposite to us.
As I said before if you need anything let me know. Drop me a line if for no reason than you would just like a chat.
Keep those spirits up,
Unfortunately, and despite every effort by Napo and Dean Rogers especially, several assurances from on high that Angela's request had been 'authorised' were just promises; the employer failed to deliver within the required timescale for want of someone not having the actual authority to put a signature on a piece of paper. As a result of this breathtaking ineptitude, Angela has now had to shelve her original plans. If nothing else, this case vividly demonstrates the worth that is now being placed on individual employees in desperate need in the brave new world that beckons.
That someone, somewhere, ought to be ashamed of themselves but I guess we'll never know who that is. Meanwhile, Angela wanted these extracts and a summary of her story to be published so that you could share her appreciation about how Napo tried to be there for her.
It's about being a family, and the unity that comes with that need when the odds are stacked against us.
Next Blog: meetings with Minister and Michael Spurr, Grayling visits Maidstone, Napo visits Grayling!