Just listening to the opening debates at the PCS National Conference in Brighton this afternoon which follows the earlier decisions reached at the MOJ Group Conference which I was invited to over the last two days.

The issues that have been covered are depressingly familiar to our members in the form of the threat of privatisation, the austerity agenda, the denial of trade union rights, and the struggle against the two tier workforce. Some enthusiasm was also evident for a proposed day of co-ordinated action to oppose the continuing pay freeze on 10th July. It goes without saying that this coalition government is determined to drive down the pay, terms and conditions of public sector workers and Napo ought to be there doing what we can to join the campaign of opposition

Yesterday, I attended two meetings at the MoJ alongside Unison, where we met representatives of the prospective bidders for the CRC’s. In our own particular struggle against the forces of darkness that have been hovering above us since Grayling announced his wretched TR project last year, this event (which we asked for via the MoJ) was a busy affair, involving two sessions of about an hour each which saw a vast array of fancy titled executives pitching up to hear what we had to say.

We started this somewhat surreal ‘let the buyer beware’ session by saying, in as professional a way as we could, that we would obviously not have started this dialogue in the first place; but that we thought we ought to make it clear that as far as we are concerned they are being asked to buy a ‘pig in a poke’. One that will be vastly different from any type of contract they have entered before and one which also included a series of inviolable safeguards by way of the NNC National Framework Agreement and the additional prospect that there will have to be transitional arrangements to allow cross representation by NPS Union reps to CRC members and vice-versa.

For good measure, we also spelt out the agreed arrangements that Grayling has signed up to for a mirror image collective bargaining regime within the NPS/CRC’s that will effectively mean that whoever wins a contract package area may not have a seat at the bargaining table, which caused a palpable ripple of seat shifting amongst the big players.

We have not fully analysed the responses and questions that came back at us, but It is fair to say that we didn’t think that these people have anything like the information they need to mount realistic bids or any comprehension about the operational chaos that is already out there and we made sure that we will follow up with evidence of this, and that our efforts yesterday were about spelling out a series of home truths. As there simply wasn’t the time to interview them all individually, we presented them with a list of key questions which should keep their bid teams exercised and hopefully cause them some discomfort.

What we asked

The following are just for starters and we have already identified a series of more comprehensive questions that will be tailored by the initial responses that we receive, or not, as the case may be.

  1. Are you clear on the industrial relations framework that you will be inheriting under the terms of the contract/staff transfer scheme and staff transfer and protections agreement, particularly in relation to:
    1. Continuation of national collective bargaining
    2. Recognition of existing probation trade unions
    3. Application of national collective agreements to new starters
    4. Voluntary severance
  2. Are you pricing your bid with the above in mind?
  3. Are you committed to avoidance of a two tier workforce in the CRC?
  4. We will expect you to offer the LGPS to new starters – please confirm your position on this
  5. What plans have you got for sub-contracting?
  6. What plans have you got for re-structuring the workforce, including voluntary redundancies?
  7. Have you any plans to use zero-hours contracts in any part of your business?
  8. How do you evidence your commitment to equality and diversity in employment and service delivery?
  9. How will you avoid infringing the ILO convention on forced labour in delivering CP?
  10. Do you recognise any other trade unions?

More news as soon as it becomes available.


Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog