NPS Pay Reform negotiations are due to re-start with 3 days of negotiations on 22nd August. This comes after negotiations stopped over a year ago, when the Treasury intervened due to their concerns about the MoJ budget.
At the end of this Parliamentary session, the MoJ told the recognised unions (Napo, Unison and GMB Scoop) that permission to negotiate had been granted along with a budget remit. However, they have not yet shared what the remit is and preparations for the restart of negotiations are being hampered by a lack of any credible, up to date pay data for the unions to analyse. This is likely to impact upon the speed of any progress in negotiations.
Napo will however be pressing for early progress. The need for this has been amplified by announcements of further awards for the prison service in advance of any probation negotiations. We will measure any offers and progress against the priorities in our joint pay claim, namely:
a) A significant increase for all staff, including those at their band maxima who haven’t had any consolidated pay award for several years.
b) A further award for those below the Band maxima to close the ridiculous gaps between people doing the same work but earning hugely different salaries;
c) Securing clear mechanisms to ensure that these gaps continue to be closed within a reasonable timeframe.
d) Securing the funding for all parts of probation, including CRC’s, to sustain a fair and consistent pay system.
Some CRCs have already made small improvements to the existing national pay rates, after negotiations in 2017-18. Efforts are being made with those employers where this is not the case and members in those branches will be updated on progress.
However, we have already raised with Ministers and CRC owners the need to make sure that pay reform is built into the on-going discussions about sustaining CRC funding until the contracts are terminated in 2020 – and that contracts must be adjusted to maintain consistency across providers. This will be essential to avoid variable pay rates complicating any future negotiations around transferring staff either back into a unified, locally accountable public sector organisation (as Napo is campaigning for) or new private contracts post 2020.
Look out for further pay updates over the coming weeks
Whilst pay negotiations are ongoing they will inevitably be bound by some need for confidentiality. However, Napo will share what we can about progress. Especially if progress is limited, we will be exploring parallel campaign strategies, as well as looking at potential legal routes to challenge the unfairness embedded in the current model so please look out for updates on the Napo website and in your inboxes.
Pay Review Body awards to Prisons
Members are rightly angry regarding recent insensitive announcements by Ministers about further pay awards for the prison service and other parts of the public sector, such as police, teachers, health, etc. without a mention of the appalling lack of attention they have given up to now on probation pay. These announcements were spun by Government across the media, as a lifting of the public sector pay cap, raising expectations of higher increases across the whole of the public sector.
The Prison Service award was especially annoying for probation staff who received nothing last year as a direct result of the HMPPS spending all of its allocated funding on a higher than expected prison service award and admitting that it had nothing left for probation, despite probation pay reform being Micheal Spurr’s stated ‘top priority’. Understandably, probation staff must feel like the prison service is a favoured child of its dysfunctional parents.
Napo recognise that these awards are not all that they seem. These announcements are the result of recommendations from so-called independent Pay Review Bodies, covering prisons, teaching, policing and other parts of the public sector – where negotiations do not take place directly between unions and the employers, but each sides submit their claim (or evidence) and the Review Body makes a recommendation. Government was announcing that it accepted these recommendations. They have not, as yet, said how they will be funding these increased awards. This means in schools, for example, meeting the pay rise will see cuts in other areas, including redundancies for teaching assistants not covered by the “deal”.
However, in acknowledging that the Government is being disingenuous we also recognise that their spin has raised member’s expectations and added additional strain to the competitiveness of probation jobs when compared to jobs in other parts of the MoJ. These issues will feed into the negotiations by the Napo pay team.
Ian Lawrence General Secretary
Dean Rogers Assistant General Secretary
Yvonne Pattison National Co-Chair