Is this the job that nobody wanted?

Those wishing for a double whammy of Chris Grayling and Jeremy Wright in the Cabinet reshuffle are obviously disappointed. Personally speaking, I have always thought that we got a bit more by way of understanding from Jeremy when it came to some acknowledgement of why we are so fundamentally opposed to the TR vision, and I am not convinced that he fully bought into the grand plan.  

Anyway, Mr Wright is off to higher things and the size of the poison chalice he left behind was, I am reliably informed, a major factor in the unparalleled delay in managing to appoint his successor. It appears that none of the new intake fancied the increasingly toxic Prisons and Rehab portfolio one little bit, so step forward one Mr Andrew Selous MP, (pronunciation as in: ‘Seeloss’) he being the incumbent for Bedfordshire South, and whose military credentials bear something of a resemblance to those held by one of his earlier predecessors, Crispin Blunt.

The introductory teleconference that I had with the new Minister yesterday afternoon was very cordial and, as you would expect, he was keen to emphasise that he fully understood Napo’s concerns and that his team were working as hard as possible to attain a steady operational state before it was judged safe to proceed with the proposed CRC share sale.

Naturally I let him know that we were far from satisfied with the response to our letter to Michael Spurr (download the correspondence), and that we wanted to see the ‘flesh on the bones’ of Testgate 4 (the safe to proceed test) and have relevant input into the terms of reference. The Minister acknowledged our concerns here and that meanwhile we intend to vigorously press forward with all aspects of our campaign.

Hopefully we will have the opportunity to meet with him soon if he can find the time between his new (and as I understand it from the Government website unpaid) role and his duties in the Whips office.

Why, Why, Why, Chris Grayling?

The annual Tolpuddle Martyr’s Festival in sunny Dorset provided a perfect rallying point last Sunday, as the London day-trippers joined the weekend Napo campers to celebrate at the spiritual home of Trade Unionism.

In the run up to the weekend I addressed a memorial seminar in the House of Commons and a packed Greater London Napo Branch AGM last Friday where I contrasted the sacrifices of the Tolpuddle Martyr’s and the attempted removal of their basic freedom to organise with our ongoing struggle against the repressive TR regime, which seeks not only to destroy our trade but threatens our ability to operate effectively on behalf of our members in a privatised environment.

Aside from the fabulous weather, great speeches, great music and great company, the event allowed for some innovative experimentation with a new Napo battle anthem to add to the ‘No Privatisation of the Probation Service’ and ‘Grayling, Grayling, Grayling, out-out out’ variety, with a novel take on ‘Delilah’.  As they say in the trade, I think it needs a bit of work but it’s got something going for it. See for yourself?

TUC Urged to help with Media Campaign

A timely opportunity for me today to remind the TUC General Council of the real and present danger presented by the possibility of the shambolic and anything but competitive CRC share sale being allowed to proceed by the crumbling Coalition in the face of the operational chaos out there in the NPS and CRC’s.

I suggested to Frances O’Grady, Dave Prentis and Paul Kenny that we ought to try and meet collectively with the Secretary of State and seek to secure as much profile as we can over the summer as this is a critical period in the anti-TR campaign.

I also mentioned that Napo will be represented at all the party conferences and will be fielding speakers at the TUC and Labour Party fringes as well and aurged all affilitaes to do whatever they can to help publicise the cause .

Meeting with the Bidders

No we have not started ‘cosying up’ to the potential contractors, but one of them (whose identity we agreed we would not reveal at this stage), asked to speak with the Trade Unions to find out a bit more about where were coming from on TR.

It was good sense on their part, for it was quickly obvious that our oft repeated assertion that they (and the other bidders) are being sold a very high risk proposition is absolutely on the money.

After our meeting, where we focused on the nine questions that I published a month or so back, Napo, Unison and GMB were clear about this particular organisations commitment to working in partnership with trade unions if their bid is successful. But we were not convinced that they fully appreciate the commercial and operational pitfalls that await them or the need to recognise the National Framework Ageement, or that the Moj have been able to answer some of their own pretty basic questions.  

If I were risking money on a TR contract right now my recommendation to my backers would be:  a). Don’t, or: b). Join the unions in demanding a halt to the share sale so that you can properly evaluate the landscape that you might be entering and losing shed loads of their money on.

As an aside, we will be asking the Moj at tomorrow’s TR Consultative Forum to drop this ridiculous 'wall of silence' that they have attempted to erect and tell us who all the bidders are and where they are pitching. I will let you know the outcome.

NNC to meet at last

More on this next week but we are meeting with the new employers side of the National Negotiating Council this Friday. It seems like an age since the last gathering which took place under the auspices of the now defunct Probation Association.

We have a pretty full agenda and have already identified that there are a host of still outstanding policies and issues that require consultation or negotiation (or both) on which it was just not possible to reach a conclusion before the dreadful staff split.

Key topics include:  Workloads and Employee care, the VR Scheme, Bargaining machinery in the NNC, NPS Divisions and CRCs. New Health and Safety and ICT Forums, ratification of a Recognition Agreement and the wider issue of Trade Union Facilities; the setting up of the agreed Staff Commission and, of course, the not unimportant matter of negotiations on the 2014 Pay Claim.

Add to all this th eneed to reach agreement on the ongoing plan of work such as NPS and CRC ‘measures’, future training arrangements and matters pertaining to staff transfers at Attendance Centres, London CP, Capita Enforcement Officers and Lockheed Martin.

A bit of a test awaits everyone then!








Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog