Napo and the Probation unions have commenced negotiations with HMPPS on the Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement. This will facilitate the movement of staff and offender management work from the CRCs into the NPS by April 2021. Ian Lawrence General Secretary reports…
I have had the privilege of attending six Napo Branch AGMs since the announcement of the Government’s Probation U-turn by David Gauke on 16 May. This will result in 80% of probation work moving into public ownership and control by April 2021. It’s become very clear that while members are delighted at this news there is widespread recognition that the unions have a major piece of work on our hands as we start to address the myriad of issues that have surfaced following this major change in direction.
In last week’s article and HQ blog post I explained a few of Napo’s intended ‘Red Lines’ that we are taking forward into the negotiations as endorsed by the National Executive Committee, and these have been well received by the members who have turned out in such impressive numbers at recent Branch meetings.
The need to get this right
I can still picture the rousing reception at last year’s Napo Annual General Meeting in Southport to the rallying call that: ‘”If what is planned for Probation in Wales is good for Wales, then it’s good for England too.”
Little did we know then that the ground would shift so dramatically in our campaign to see all of Probation work return to where it belongs, and notwithstanding that we are still short of total victory, we have to deal with the very pressing situation in front of us.
The immediate challenge is to ensure that the arrangements for transferring Offender Management work, and the staff that will be required to undertake it, from the Wales region of the KSS CRC by December is managed effectively.
So far, we have had a meeting with HMPPS/MoJ senior leaders, the national unions and reps from Wales. These initial exchanges helped everyone involved to understand the specific requirements of the OM Wales project. Further meetings are taking place locally between the unions and NPS and CRC senior leaders to identify the logistics and any particular governance issues in relation to Wales that all of this will need.
The first priority in the national negotiations is to establish which staff will be ‘in scope’ to move to the NPS with their work and the terms of the transfer, such as pay, terms and conditions which is where our red lines will be tested. Then we will need to establish how we deal with a number of scenarios namely: staff who do not want to transfer; staff who do but have been engaged on interventions and programmes ever since TR; staff who want to carry on with that vitally important work or, who may have particular domestic circumstances or particular protected characteristics. As you would expect, I have been asked whether all of this points to a likely redundancy bonanza, but my straight answer at members meetings is don’t put yours or anyone else’s shirts on that prospect. Napo’s first priorities are no detriment, harmonisation of pay for all probation staff NPS or CRC, continuity of service, facilities time for our reps to cross CRC and NPS county lines and job security for everyone.
Facts are important – get them from Napo
I have been around long enough in this business to appreciate that all sorts of messages from different sources will be banded around in what is undoubtedly another period of uncertainty. It’s frustrating and people want answers; but remember who it was who pulled the service apart under TR and the task we face in picking up the pieces. Napo will ensure that we issue clear communications to our members at every opportunity, and that when it comes to the selection process for determining who is in scope or not to go with OM work, I have made our policy very clear. Essentially, we have said that the CRC operators should have an advisory role through their contractors and fulfil their existing responsibilities to their current workforce. Many members are of the view that they don’t want their long-term futures determined by employers whose remaining tenure is short-term.
Many of our members still have bitter memories of the ‘Cherry picking’ by the employers four years ago, and that is why your leadership group are doing all we can to avoid a repeat of that (Grayling inspired) farce.