Napo’s 2017/18 pay claim for NPS members
The lengthy pay talks between probation and unions Napo, UNISON and GMB/SCOOP finally concluded in February with Michael Spurr, HMPPS’s chief exec, refusing to honour hardworking probation staff with a pay award.
Claiming that the service had already “exceeded the 1% pay remit for staff across the agency for 2017”, he confirmed there would only be a 1 pay point increase to 6,980 eligible employees below their pay band maximum (which was already paid last April), and more insultingly, staff at the top of their pay bands would receive nothing.
This would no doubt have been a devastating blow to Napo members who made clear at last year’s AGM in Nottingham they were prepared to explore industrial action if a favourable outcome was not reached.
Spurr wrote: “I absolutely recognise that this will be very unwelcome news in the short-term, but as you recognise the current probation pay system requires fundamental reform and I am confident that we can negotiate an improved system which will bring more benefits to both your members and to the national probation service overall.”
He went on to say: “I hope therefore that the disappointment which you will have about this year’s pay outcome will be mitigated by our clear commitment to negotiate a revised pay system in 2018 which will properly take account of the need to motivate and retain our most experienced probation staff as well as providing a revised pay structure which attracts new recruits and motivates them to progress within the service.”
If Spurr was hoping to soften the blow with promises of future negotiations, he was certainly mistaken.
One member wrote: “This is an absolutely travesty. Michael Spurr and his likes have taken us for granted again whilst spending money on the prison service and wasting money on the CRCs. How much has his pay gone up?”
Another said: “I am disgusted at the letter from Michael Spurr received by the unions today.”
Writing on his blog shortly after receiving the news, Napo general secretary, Ian Lawrence said: “That we are now in a situation where a number of community rehabilitation companies are actually paying (or offering to pay) salaries higher than the NPS, (despite their own well-documented failings), is not something I would have bet on a few months ago, but it’s a strange world of course. Nevertheless, it would be unwise to think that this heralds some type of counter-revolution as many more CRCs have still not made a pay award for 2017/18 and are prevaricating over their longer-term pay reform agendas.
“The farce that we encountered in what passed as pay talks with the NPS hierarchy has been seen by many of those members who have shared their thoughts with us as the ‘thin edge of the wedge’, with many saying that it’s time to get out on the barricades or at least work to rule.”
This is not a matter Napo and the other probation unions are prepared to let lie. We have written to the new justice secretary asking for an urgent meeting and have requested permission to begin negotiations on longer-term pay reform.
In the meantime, Napo is keen to find out just how far members are prepared to go to receive the pay they deserve. Consultations will begin shortly.