Err yes…actually the unions got it right (again)

We have been reporting on the farcical engagement we have been having recently with senior NPS leaders on 2017 pay and we were visited at this week’s TU engagement meeting by Martin Beacroft  the HMPPS HR lead. Martin came to tell us that our conclusion that all of the 2017 NPS pay remit had not been spent was ‘well on the money’ so to speak.

At the time of writing the unions are about to issue another joint statement to members on pay but suffice to say that the way in which this issue has been handled begs a host of questions about the competency of the NPS and MoJ leadership to be able to properly account for the money that they are entrusted with.

The ensuing discussion covered other pay related issues such as why allowances and London Weighting have not been uplifted and we were of course able to relay members anger about the far from amusing sub-plot that has seen the NPS refused authority to make further Market Forces pay uplifts in the so called ‘Red Sites’ despite huge numbers of unfilled vacancies and some NPS  divisions paying out overtime.

I well appreciate that all of this is frustrating for members but it’s not of the unions making; and our persistence in demanding that someone should add up the numbers again means that further representations will be made further up the food chain.

We live in hope.

Meanwhile, Sam says thanks

Had meant to copy you into this ‘thank you ‘ letter from Minister Gyimah earlier, but in light of the foregoing and the uncertainty about longer term pay reform, I doubt whether our members will be exactly jumping with joy at the expression of appreciation contained therein.

Sam Gyimah Letter

‘It is painful that only a handful of Government Members have turned up for this important debate. That shows that they do not care about our workers.’

I mentioned last week that there was to be a Westminster Hall debate on public sector pay and the line above has been taken from the transcript of the proceedings which featured a high quality contribution from Helen Jones MP, among others

It’s worth a read but if you run out of time try this classic observation from Helen which nails the oft quoted lie that public servants are a drain on the economy.

‘When we are told that only the private sector generates value in the economy, we should ask, “Yes, but who looks after your workers when they are sick? Who do you call if you are burgled or are the victim of fraud? Who do you call if a fire starts in your building? Who educated the workers you employ?” The answer is, of course, “the public sector”. There is something else about the public sector that cannot be measured so easily: it has contributed more to human improvement and happiness than it is possible to say. Without our teachers and our classroom assistants, for instance, so many hopes and aspirations would be stifled. Having a national health service has freed many families from the fear of being ill and not being able to pay the doctor. The improvements that NHS staff have made in preventing and tackling disease have vastly increased everyone’s quality of life.

Something else about the public sector is that its workers are often ready to go the extra mile, precisely because they believe in the notion of public service. We see that in teachers and classroom assistants, who put on extra classes in their own time to help children who are struggling or to help the very brightest achieve their potential. We see it in an NHS support worker, who will bring in a card or a small gift for an old person on their birthday because they know they have no one else. We see it in a police community support officer who will go around to reassure a victim of crime or antisocial behaviour, even when they are off duty. Nor should we forget that we saw it in this House when Westminster was under attack from terrorists. The staff of St Thomas’s Hospital ran—they ran—across that bridge, heedless of their own safety, to help others, and a very brave man, Police Constable Keith Palmer, lost his life defending us. After such incidents, a lot of gratitude is expressed to public sector workers, and rightly so, but gratitude does not pay the rent or the mortgage, or put food on the table. It does not buy a new uniform for the kids, or a day out.’

Westminster Hall Debate (hansard)

Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?

Yes, another of those famous: ‘whoever thought of that’, questions which was among those included in the HMPPS section of the Civil Service People Survey.

At this week’s Trade Union engagement meeting with the NPS we heard how positive the responses had been from staff. That was good to hear and first read of the probation specific data suggests there is some substance to the claims that people enjoy their work and feel trusted to get on with it. Also important was the response that people feel they can rely on their colleagues and that h eteam ethic appears to be strong. The clever use of neutral scores to average out the negative aspects are nothing new of course, but the overwhelming impression is that the NPS scores well for its good intentions but pretty badly on its capacity to deliver and manage change and make staff feel part of the bigger picture.

If I have seen one of these types of survey I have seen hundreds, and while it’s all good stuff for the consultants revenue streams, our members will probably agree that it won’t be long before it gathers dust on a shelf somewhere as the NPS struggles with bigger priorities such as their ability to pay people correctly, and convincing the Treasury that they can be trusted to manage their finances more efficiently.

As always we stand ready to work collectively to explore the positives but I was not especially enthused by the outcomes. You can drill down into the survey results here and see for yourself.

Ministry of Justice: Civil Service people survey results 2017

Trouble in the Wild West

Signing off for now as I arrive in Weston Super Mare (then Bristol later) to meet with Working Links CRC union members on the second leg of visits to the West Country where on Monday I spoke with UNISON and Napo members in Bodmin.

I am working on a feature article for our upcoming issue of the online journal NQ where I hope to articulate the disgraceful way in which staff are being treated by this employer and the dreadful and dangerous things that are going on in terms of interventions and Unpaid Work services.

It’s clear from feedback that we are fast heading to the next stage of this dispute and I will as always respond to our members wishes here. Watch this space.

Cafcass pay offer - members being consulted

Next week should see the result of the Cafcass members pay ballot, and more news on the latest developments around proposed changes to the Workload measurement tool, on which Napo have been making some strong representations.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog