We have heard back from the Probation and Prisons Minister Rory Stewart following our meeting with him last month and the reply to our overtures is both predictable and disappointing. It is more of the “you are doing such a great job, but the fiscal position is very difficult etc.” mantra that we have seen from successive politicians with no clear timeline as to when we can expect substantive pay talks to start. We will now be taking forward our planning with Unison for the events that I touched upon last week and more news will follow from this week’s meeting of the negotiators.
Our very strong representations over the 2017/18 NPS pay debacle and the so far going nowhere any time soon, response to the longer term pay reform agenda, has brought us a meeting with the new Prisons and Probation Minister Rory Stewart on Tuesday.
With speculation rife over the weekend that the new Secretary of State has had enough of the prison safety situation and that changes may be likely at the top of HMPPS, I expect that it’s not just a number of football managers who face an uncertain future following the weekend results. It may be just rumours of course and its likely they will be denied by the MoJ but, as history shows, it’s unwise to welcome that 'we have every confidence' missive that usually presages a dismissal.
There has been significant feedback into Napo HQ and through members of the Probation Negotiating Committee (PNC) who met last week, about the shoddy and disrespectful response to the union’s claims on 2017-18 pay and longer-term probation pay reform. Indeed, I understand that a number of members have written directly to Michael Spurr to tell him in no uncertain terms just how unhappy they are not only with his of excuses, but its underlying sanctimonious tone.
The signs were clear at last year’s AGM in Nottingham that the political tides which have revealed the wreckage of privatisation were turning back in our favour. We heard keynote speeches from both ends of the political spectrum in the form of Shadow Justice lead Richard Burgon, and the Justice Committee Chair Bob Neil, both of whom pulled no punches in denigrating Chris Graylings dreadful social experiment.
Well a number of places actually, starting from a freezing Biggin Hill in Kent whilst awaiting the early morning pick up from Sky News for my 07:15 live interview in Millbank. Getting out of bed at unearthly hours for media appointments comes with the job so no complaints there, but it tests your organisational skills as well as working out what excuse to give the Dog as to why he won’t be taken out for a walk this particular morning.
Its hardly surprising that we have had a number of enquiries asking about the progress in our attempts to close off what has passed as “negotiations” on 2017/18 pay and where we are in making progress on a new pay structure.
We hope to issue something more substantive over the next week but broadly this is the position we have reached.
As promised and with massive thanks to Kath Falcon here at Falcon Road here is a summary of the key exchanges from last weeks hearing of the PAC which I mentioned in my last posting. This will provide Napo with substantial information to take forward in our continuing parliamentary and campaigning work with politicians as well as in our exchanges with the CRC owners.
Our comms team are in the process of carefully analysing this week’s oral evidence session of the Committee for Public Accounts (PAC). Here the cross-party committee gave Michael Spurr and MoJ Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton a torrid time as they called them to account following the report from the National Audit Office into the funding arrangements for the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies on the back of the £27m ‘bail out’ this year and the further £277m guarantee for the duration of the contracts.