In terms of media coverage, the lead stories on BBC and Sky news on Saturday following Rory Stewart's suggestion that under six-month sentences could be a thing of the past, was a huge boost for our campaigns.
If you celebrated Christmas but were not on duty over the festive period, the first Monday of the "New Year" brings that traditional challenge in the form of all those unopened mince pies, cakes and chocolates that your colleagues have thoughtfully deposited in the tearoom. They of course having confidently embarked on their personal weight loss campaigns that, in most cases, will be in total shreds by the end of the month just as you predicted.
I have just signed off the last of the letters which I have been sending out to CRC Chief Executives over the last few days. These will be published to members early in the new year. These essentially remind them that the NPS pay settlement needs to be matched in real terms by them as employers and includes the clear directive from our AGM in October to urge them to join with Napo in jointly lobbying the MoJ to adjust the current contracts to enable pay parity with staff working for the NPS.
News reaches me of a pay award to Cafcass staff. Ordinarily, and especially on top of Christmas, that might bring a bit of festive cheer. Unfortunately, Cafcass neglected to inform anyone of the decision to implement the remit they were given by the Minister, which has gone down as badly as a mouldy mince pie with their staff.
Feedback here indicates that people are livid about this situation as well as the paltry nature of the award. That nobody could even pick up a phone and at least give us the bad news directly is extraordinary.
Its hardly surprising that the NPS pay out has caused some predictable resentment among our members in the CRC estate.
In my letter to the Secretary of State David Gauke - CLICK HERE - which picked up on the mandate given to us by the AGM in Southport, I made it very clear that the NPS pay modernisation deal must be replicated and spelt out very clearly why we are campaigning to achieve pay parity between NPS and CRC staff.
The Government's campaign to convince the public that this is the best deal on offer intensifies. No, not Brexit this time, but the increasingly desperate attempt to justify the policy to merely repeat the mistakes of the past four and a half years and rebadge another selling out of Probation.
I am not sure just how many civil servants are engaged in formulating and publishing this material but last week we received yet another of those GOV.UK bulletins containing a compendium of documents which attempted to explain the inexplicable.
As we expected, some of the CRC providers have reacted to the NPS settlement by making some movement on the pay front.
Sadly, it is still not enough in terms of our campaign to secure pay equity across the NPS and the CRCs, and I will shortly be writing to providers to say as much. Because of the recent flurry of activity and the need to review the overall picture at tomorrow’s meeting of your National Executive Committee, these communications and a more detailed update will follow shortly for all members.
As I reported to the AGM, your delegates to the TUC were mandated by your National Executive Committee to support the TUC policy position on Brexit. The outcome of the negotiations with the EU were announced last week and gave rise to what was by any standards an extraordinary week in UK politics.
Below is the statement from TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady which I thought you would want to see.
As I have reported in previous weeks, the so-called consultation on ‘strengthening Probation and building confidence’ is nothing but a sham, and won’t change the intended direction of travel which is to create a false market and merely sell off the whole shambles under a different regional structure.
Just as was predicted at our recent AGM, the news of the current NPS pay offer has spooked CRC owners who are understandably worried that they will lose staff across to better paying employers, (well actually, the NPS to be precise). News reaches me of NPS vacancy pages on the internet receiving record numbers of hits, and examples already in of CRC staff voting with their feet despite taking a hit on continuity of service and deciding that reaching their pay maximum in a lot less time than they would have, is simply well worth it.