Last Wednesday’s meeting of the National Negotiating Council (NNC) was something of a fraught affair. As largely expected, the National Probation Service indicated its intention to withdraw from the NNC and Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades (SCCOG).
Members will have seen the report from the 2016 AGM in Cardiff where a decision was made that we should resist such a move and subsequently we have been doing all that we can to deliver on that directive. A short history of developments shows that the NPS decided well over 12 months ago that they were no longer prepared to sit alongside the CRCs at the negotiating table, and a series of meetings between the employers side and the unions have taken place to explore the potential for new bargaining machinery. Our aim throughout has been to try and defend the status quo, but to ensure that the legacy policies contained in the NNC Handbook and the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement would remain in force if local CRC wide agreements were agreed by our members.
As was pointed out very forcibly last week, our AGM voted that possibility down because our members, having seen how some CRC owners have been conducting themselves over their plans for achieving staff reductions (most notably a failure by some to honour Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy terms and seek variation of contracts and collective agreements without negotiation) are not to be trusted.
A formal letter was received last Friday afternoon from Sonia Crozier which was a good deal different from the original approach taken by the NPS employers last week. Whilst it confirms the intention of NPS to withdraw from the NNC, senior NOMS management have sensibly agreed to our request that this issue should be the subject of further discussion via the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS) and that there will be an extension of the intention to withdraw until 31st January.
Material is now being finalised for issue to members across the probation service and your Branch representatives will be in touch to organise local consultative meetings where you will have the opportunity to indicate what steps you think Napo should take next in response.
As always the timing of these developments is not helpful given the upcoming Christmas holidays, but it’s likely that we will ask you to let us have a view by mid-January, so look out for news of a meeting near you very soon, or early into the New Year, and please ensure that you make every effort to attend.
More news will be issued directly to members over the next couple of days so please check your preferred e mail address for Napo communications.
Thanks to the Guardian - and to Napo members
The previous week’s Guardian survey on the state of Britain’s probation services attracted a sizeable number of responses which led to the publication of this story last week
This offers a graphic insight into the difficulties that are being faced by our members that ought to make Chris Grayling (who we see has now been let loose to reform the rail network for goodness sake) to hang his head in shame. Or better still, do as Bob Neill, a senior Tory and Chair of the Justice Committee, suggested he should do last week.
I have today written to the Justice Select Committee alerting them to another imminent and high profile report from HM Inspector of Probation that is due to be released this week and asking them for an early opportunity to provide formal evidence to follow up on the private session I attended with them recently.
We have some important political momentum on the probation question and many of you will have noted that the Secretary of State announced last week that the Probation Systems Review is expected to make a full report by April. That’s either an attempt to ignore the issues for a few months more; or as is being suggested by senior NOMS sources, an extension which will allow a root and branch look at the shambolic contracts and payment by results system.
More news when it becomes available.