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.
Its an issue that I have raised personally with Justice Select Committee Chair Bob Neill MP, the Probation Programme Engagement Forum where we are arguing for contract adjustments now and in any future versions that see the light of day in 2020. I am also signing off a personalised letters to every CRC Chief Executive within the next few days which will seek their support in lobbying the MoJ for more cash.
Our campaign and communications team here are working on specific recruitment material for CRC staff which will make it very clear that pay parity won’t simply be achieved by us simply shouting louder and why increasing membership density is an important factor in making employers sit up and take notice that their workforce will no longer be prepared to take every rubbish pay offer that comes their way.
All of this as I have said on numerous ocassions, will be a struggle. If further proof were needed then take a look at the reply just in from David Gauke to my earlier letter which trots out the same insulting response that we hear from any number of people that the CRC employers are separate entities for pay purposes, despite them having received an additional half a billion pounds in taxpayers funding to shore up their failures.
This situation has been compounded by the refusal of CRC owners to support their chief executives to pay more to their staff and/or at least give a commitment that if they should bid for the proposed new CRC contracts, those bids will include pay parity if it has not been achieved by 2020. Our campaign work locally is being taken forward by your Napo National Officials in partnership with your reps who will be pleased to explain this activity in more detail. I can also say that National Chair Katie Lomas and I are prepared to attend member and prospective member meetings upon request.
Victory is possible
I well remember being involved in similar campaigns in years past. One especially, where the private provider had won contracts from Government and were presiding over a four-tier workforce. As you would expect, the union tried reason, then tried persuasion but then spelt out to staff in very stark terms that it was only strength in numbers that was going to make an immediate impact, rather than a drawn out campaign of expectation that the employer thought it could simply bat off.
Within weeks, union membership had increased from around 30% to nearly 100%. Suddenly the attitude of the employer changed markedly and negotiations started to be taken much more seriously.
Our position was strengthened by an increasing willingness by members to take collective action which, in the end did not become necessary, as we eventually reached a ground breaking deal with the employer.
The message is as stark and simple and relevant today as it was to those workers back then. Join a union and help to empower yourselves.
To further reinforce the above point, Last week Katie and I addressed around 130 new starters at an event hosted by the Probation Institute and appreciation to Helen Schofield and her team for the opportunity. Here is what I had to say prior to a hugely enjoyable Q&A.