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.
His CV suggests he is an interesting kind of politician with a diverse range of interests and hobbies including the odd walk as evidenced by his trek across the deserts of Afghanistan a few years back. Certainly he talked a good talk on the phone a while ago about the big issues in Probation and Prisons and I have some optimism (which I seriously hope is not going to be misplaced) that we will for once get something sounding like a statement of intent rather than 'Yes Minister' platitudes.
As always that depends on two things. One being the quality of briefing provided by his MoJ and HMPPS officials and two: whether the Treasury team who dish out the pay rations seriously believe in the capacity of the HMPPS senior leaders to deliver their stated intention (and it has to be said, their competence) to do something serious to improve our members pay position.
There wont be if's and but's coming from the Unions side of the table as our agenda is pretty clear and, if broken down to its most basic, says: pay up and pay up now as we are ready to start testing the water in response to what an increasing number of members are saying to us, that seven long years without any sort of meaningful pay rise is seven years too long.
It would be hugely refreshing if the Minister would be at least able to signal that negotiations should get underway again even in the absence of the final bundle of cash. Some excellent work by people at HMPPS who do know what they are doing means that the basic formula is there but it needs a Ministerial kick start to get it back running.
Your call Rory.
Parliamentary and Media Campaigns bring more coverage for probation
In addition to the plans that I mentioned last week about our developing pay campaign, our efforts through our ongoing media work has brought us some further useful coverage this past week on the Victoria Derbyshire live show, where I was invited to give a perspective on the role of probation in the parole process and the dangers of trial by media and offer some perspective to the (often short of a few facts debate) that has been raging around the so called 'Worboys' case.
Whilst at Broadcasting House I was nabbed by the One o Clock news where I am told I got a few precious moments more to beat the drum on behalf of our members work in the wider CJS.
Just before heading off to see the Minister I intend to catch a bit of Tuesdays very interesting by the look of it of the Justice Select Committee here is the list of people lined up to take the hot seats.
Select Committee: Justice (Oral Evidence Session) – Transforming Rehabilitation. Witnesses: Trevor Shortt (Director of Operations (Community), Sodexo), Ed Roberts (Finance Director, Sodexo CRC Business, Sodexo), John Baumback (Managing Director, Seetec), Suki Binning (Chief Executive Officer, Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC), Sonia Crozier (Probation and Executive Director, Probation and Women, National Probation Service), Kilvinder Vigurs (Probation Divisional Director London, National Probation Service), Lynda Marginson (Probation Divisional Director North East, National Probation Service), Ian Barrow (Probation Divisional Director Wales, National Probation Service). Location: Room 18, Palace of Westminster (10am)
It commences at 10:00am and you can catch it on Parliament TV. Think they may need a rather large room for it mind.
The rest of the weeks activities
These include an important meeting of the future of the Trade Union Co-ordinating group following the untimely death of Simeon Andrews (whose funeral takes place on Monday 26th March) and a speaking slot for me at the Inside Government conference on the reform of Offender Management on Wednesday morning. This is followed by the Justice and Family Court Unions Parliamentary Group in the afternoon.
Then there is the upcoming NEC meeting on Thursday which, as always is going to be asked to make some important decisions on a range of issues that directly impact on our members.
More news on these and other events will feature regularly via news from the Napo Communications Team.