Napo General Secetary, Ian Lawrence, addressed Napo’s AGM on the Saturday morning of conference, 6th October. In his speech he reaffirmed the union’s commitment to to the issues debated by the Family Court Section at its AGM on Friday morning. He said: “I listened and noted what our FCs members were saying Thursday about communications with members, the required work on their recruitment campaign, the interaction with their brothers and sisters in probation, the future of their Family Court Journal, and the plans to engage senior management on some disturbing trends in grievance and capability proceedings which appear to be disproportionately targeting staff from the BAME Community.”
Ian also spoke about members in Probation Northern Ireland saying: “they still face significant challenges. Stormont is still inactive and the antics of one of the main parties in propping up the Tories over here are having a deleterious impact on the need for self-governance and its time certain people woke up to that fact.”
Ian also addressed the professional issues facing the union. He said: On ViSOR we have listened carefully to yesterday’s debate and your message to protect members’ employment rights have been loudly and clearly received. We are in dispute here, because the employer has refused to take our solutions onboard. Unfortunately we have exhausted our enquiries on the legal options are while we have not ruled out IA, that is a route which will have to be carefully considered and whereas always I will be guided by our members. Is it too much to ask that senior NPS leaders stop wringing their hands and accept the notion that it should be ok to fail the vetting and not for that to stigmatise staff and put a blight on peoples career. In other words, NPS leaders should be batting for your team just a little bit harder.”
On SFOs he said: “Another issue, which is certainly no laughing matter, is the increase in SFO representations. This has included dealing with the aftermath of the Panorama documentary and the fact that there is now obvious Ministerial interest in these cases and growing evidence that those in charge of a probation service ripped asunder by disastrous political decisions now want to point the finger of blame on staff to demonstrate to victims’ families that ‘something is being done’.”
He also addressed the current political situation and a number of diversity issues.
“As we know the Post Brexit, referendum world is a toxic environment, further sullied by the encouragement it has given to right wing politicians and extremist groups across Europe
This scale of mobilisation by the far right, with fascists operating at its heart, is unprecedented in recent years and we have heard about the assault on the RMT delegation following the Stand Up To Racism/Unite Against Fascism counter demo against Robinson’s supporters on 14 July, and then a fascist attack on the TUC’s official bookshop Bookmarks.
This emergent far right street movement is characterised by its aggressive Islamophobia—expressed through the laughably named if it was not so serious Football Lads Alliance and the ‘Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance’
Operating under a so called anti extremist banner as they besmirch the England flag and whose racist behaviour and bile does not exactly match up to its mantra.
Redolent is it not of the 1930s when people laughed at so-called tin pot racists and look where it led? This year I had the privilege to visit Auschwitz, as I know many of you have too, and pay homage to the millions of victims of all races who lost their lives under Nazi oppression. Perhaps those moronic thugs who think that racism is good for the soul should also pay a visit to such places where the lives and souls of millions were so brutally destroyed. If we don’t heed the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat them.”
The two “big ticket” items though were, he said, the state of the Probation Service and Napo’s Reunification Campaign and the NPS pay Offer, each of which he said has inextricable links to the other
Ian said the proposed new pay deal ticked a number of boxes: “progression to the max in 3-6 years instead of 25; a minimum of 6% over two years, with significant increases for those mid pay band now, and again in April on further progression, and for the first time in 10 years achieving headroom for those at their pay band maxima., all of this absent any performance pay. No it does not give us all that we wanted and yes, there will be some challenges going forward but it gives us back some dignity.”
The next challenge, if it is accepted in the ballot, he said was how we turn our focus and campaigning energy on the CRC providers in 2018 and beyond
“There is no indication from anywhere right now that CRCs will have any expectation to follow suit. So Napo will now fully engage in a pay campaign with the CRCs. That campaign will comprise national and local activity and will require input from Napo and our CRC members. Napo is committed to ensuring that the service is reunified and a unified pay claim is essential to meeting this long-term objective.”
He pledged that Napo was prepared to work with the CRCS to ensure they weree given the funds to match this pay offer… “But If CRC’s are not willing to engage or fail to obtain the required funds, Napo will work closely with branches to look at our options and if that involves the potential for industrial action then we will seriously explore this in partnership with Reps and members.”
The NPS pay offer is out for ballot of members starting on Monday 15th October (until 5th November). All members eligible to vote will be emailed with a unique PIN to enable them to take part in the e-ballot. Information on the offer is with reps and branches and will be on the Napo website.