Napo AGM authorises ballot for Industrial Action on Probation pay and workloads

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At last week's hugely successful Napo Annual General Meeting, members instructed the General Secretary and National Chair to initiate a campaign of industrial action to reject the government pay freeze, the 2021 pay offer and excessive workloads.

Motions calling for a trade dispute to be registered and a statutory ballot of our Probation members should the employer fail to engage in further negotiations, were overwhelmingly carried.

In some highly emotional debates at AGM, members explained the impact of low pay and excessive workloads on their health and wellbeing. At a time when we are facing soaring fuel bills, the prospect of a hike in National Insurance and continuing inflation rates, a pay freeze is a pay cut and members deserve better.

These decisions followed the outcomes of recent indicative ballots across Napo, UNISON and GMB which recorded votes of 99%,98% and 86% respectively in opposition to the pay freeze and pay offer.

What next?

Napo and our sister unions will do our best to seek further negotiations with the employer, and next week we are due to meet with the new Minister for Probation, Policing and Re-offending. As things stand we are of the view that there is little scope for manoeuvre and that a trade dispute is all but inevitable.

If this happens it’s simply because the predicament of our members has been ignored and that the employer and government are banking on our members being unwilling to take a stand over pay and excessive workloads.

Napo will therefore be working with our sister unions in Probation, as well as those representing staff across HMPPS who are also facing derisory pay offers, to explore the possibilities of co-ordinated industrial action if this becomes necessary.

Preparing for a statutory ballot

As was made clear to members in the material that we issued in the indicative ballot, industrial action can only be invoked if certain legal thresholds under the Trade Union Act 2016 are met. These include stipulations around the turnout and percentage of members voting in a postal ballot in favour of action as well as identifying the intended action itself, but in Napo’s case we have a high level of confidence from the turnout in the indicative ballot that we can meet these challenges. Our result was the most significant of its kind in recent Napo history.

At the present time we have not agreed what a programme of industrial action would look like in the event that it becomes necessary, but if a statutory postal ballot is held, all members taking part will know exactly what they are voting for.

Where are you?

It’s absolutely vital that in addition to knowing the up to date home address and workplace for all of our Probation service members, we need to be able to contact you with news about the pay campaign via a private e-mail address or a mobile phone number for text messages. Please check that your private e-mail address is up to date and please encourage your colleagues to do the same. You can do this by logging into the member area on the website or contacting your branch membership secretary.

Look out for more news

You can be assured that your union will do everything possible to avoid having to enter into an industrial campaign but we will be led by the will of our members, and last week’s debates at Conference were a good indicator of the mood of determination that exists and that we have reached a line in the sand after years of injustice.

The employer has been advised of the situation and at the meeting with the Minister next week we will be asking him to intervene directly as we seek to avoid a damaging trade dispute.

We will be mailing out regularly to update members, but please make sure your work colleagues are receiving our emails and encourage any who aren’t members to join us – the only way to get change is to stand together!