Bring probation contracts back into public control to avoid further disaster, says UNISON

Bring probation contracts back into public control to avoid further disaster, says UNISON

Responding to today’s insolvency of Working Links – a company that oversees three outsourced probation contracts – UNISON national officer for police and justice Ben Priestley said:

“This privatisation has been a disaster and one that was long predicted. The government must immediately step in to bring these collapsed services back in-house.

“The priority is to reassure the public in the South West and Wales that communities will remain protected. Staff too need assurances about their jobs, and that they will still be paid.

“This is yet another catastrophe to be added to Chris Grayling’s growing record of failure. He was repeatedly warned when Justice Secretary that privatisation would fail. The collapse of these contracts is proof.

“Despite the chaos, the Ministry of Justice is still planning to award more probation contracts to private firms. Nearly half a billion pounds of public money has already been wasted propping up failing contracts.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON has written a joint letter with Napo to the current Justice Secretary David Gauke urging him to bring the contracts back into the public sector and calling for urgent talks.
– Working Links operates three community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) in: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire; Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; and Wales.
– In 2015, Chris Grayling announced reforms to probation services through the £3.7bn “Transforming Rehabilitation” programme. Under this, medium and low-risk cases were to be managed by 21 community rehabilitation companies. High-risk offenders continue to be handled by the National Probation Service.
– The Ministry of Justice announced in July 2018 that CRC contracts were to be shortened by two years, meaning they end in 2020. In a consultation that month, it said: “In a number of areas the quality of probation services being delivered is falling short of our expectations.”
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors. 

Further information will be available next week.



Dear Unison Member,

It has been another busy year for us all and it doesn’t seem 2 minutes since the last AGM.

This year the branch has attempted to open up the AGM to be more available to more members therefore we have decided to hold aggregate AGM’s – dates and venues below.  We really hope that you will be able to make it to one convenient for you, be it home or work.

Manchester – Arena Point , 1 Hunts Bank,  M3 1UN               14th March 2019

Preston – Gujerat Centre,  South Meadow Lane, PR1 8JN                  19th March 2019

Merseyside – The Brain Charity, Norton St, Liverpool L3 8LR   26th March 2019

All meetings commence at 5.30pm. Note you can attend only one of these meetings. For all branch updates look on our website  

We are also continuing with the raffle prizes, each AGM will have a main prize with two 2nd prizes and 10 3rd prizes

Please could you complete the attached slip so we know whether you are attending or not, then we can order enough food for us all!

As we are undertaking meetings in different areas we have no guest speakers , however we are opening the floor to you, have you got any suggestions on how you want the branch to communicate with you?? We are looking into using social media, what would you prefer??

WhatsApp group, Facebook Pages, Tweets, email, post or text – there is no right answer but we want to be able to reach everyone – what are your thoughts??

Come and meet us and let us know what you think, we will also have the usual freebies for you to collect.

We look forward to seeing at one of the above events.

Steve Buckley                    Zoe Todd

Branch Chair                       Branch Secretary


I will/will not be attending the AGM’s




————————————————————————————————————————————– Email to or post to Unison, 87 Moss Lane West, Manchester M15 5PE

Ex Capita Enforcement Officer Harmonisation Offer URGENT Update!

UNISON has had further clarification from the NPS regarding our questions over the harmonisation offer given to ex-Capita enforcement officers. The deadline for accepting the harmonisation offer in order to get paid in February is today, but staff accepting the offer after today will be paid in March.

UNISON was seeking to clarify whether the pay progression element of the offer was correct. We were particularly interested to find out whether there were any ex-Capita enforcement officers who received notification of their E3 posting and salary changes before 1 October 2016. This is because any staff who were notified of their E3 posting prior to 1 October 2016 may be entitled to additional incremental progression in the pay harmonisation offer.

The NPS has confirmed that no ex-Capita enforcement officers were notified of their E3 posting, or salary changes before 1 April 2017.

If this information is correct, then UNISON believes that the pay harmonisation offer is correct as far as we have been able to ascertain.

Members wishing to accept the offer are therefore advised that UNISON can see no reason that they should not go ahead and accept.

Please let Ben Priestley, National Officer, know if you were notified of your E3 posting and salary changes prior to 1 October 2016 as we can find out whether you are may be entitled to any additional money.

Please let me have any questions on this bulletin.


NPS Enforcement Officers

Interserve Pay Award

UNISON Free Accidental Death Cover

Dear Colleague, 

Make the most of your UNISON membership and don’t miss out on your FREE £5,000 of Accidental Death Cover! Cover lasts for 12 months but can be renewed for FREE*. It’s quick and easy and is yet another reason why it pays to be a Unison member. 


We’ll do the rest. After your application you’ll receive a call from us to take further details, activate your cover and explain other benefits available. 

Acceptance is guaranteed for UK residents aged 18-69. 
For full policy details, please click here:

John Eccles 
UNISON Protect

*Terms and Conditions apply. UNISONProtect works alongside a number of insurers and the insurer at renewal may change. UNISON is an Introducer Appointed Representative of UNISONProtect, which is a trading name of Union Income Benefit Holdings Ltd (UIB) who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, register number 307575. This can be checked on the FCA website Free Accidental Death Cover is underwritten by Advent Insurance PCC Ltd – UIB Cell.

Kind Regards 

John Eccles 
Unioninsurance Regional Development Manager 
Mobile: 07833 450067 

Unison Living Programme – Shepherds Friendly

Let-s Fix Probation Bulletin – UNISON Joins Probation Alliance

UNISON Skills for Strength 2019

Speakers announced for UNISON Skills for Strength 2019 – Don’t miss your chance to register

Dear Colleague,

Skills for Strength is UNISON North West’s annual organising convention, where activists gather to share ideas with each other and learn from a plethora of speakers from across the breadth of our movement, and from across the globe, in a series of practical workshops on how to effectively build union power and improve workers’ lives in challenging times. This year’s event is being held on Saturday 16th March at the Mechanics Centre in central Manchester.

We can now announce our first confirmed speakers for Skills for Strength 2019, who are bringing their experience from across our region around the world to this event:

Michael Crosby – Michael is former director of the Australian Confederation of Trades Unions’ Organising Centre. He is the author of the influential 2005 book ‘Power at Work’, which documented the crisis facing the union movement and focussed on the central role of organising workplaces and industries in an evidence-based plan for renewal. It led to the building of a new organising agenda which is hardheaded, practical and achievable. Greg Combet, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions, said of Crosby: ¿Over the last ten years Michael Crosby has gained a unique insight into Australian unions as a result of his reforming work with the ACTU’s Organising Centre. ¿ His account of the strategic imperatives confronting Australian unions in the 21st century is the most comprehensive statement of the issues yet written.¿

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP – Rebecca is the Labour MP for Salford and Eccles and the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, a key member of the Labour front bench team. 

Dr. Anitha Sundari & Dr. Ruth Pearson – Dr. Sundari and Dr. Pearson are the authors of ¿Striking Women, Struggles and strategies of South Asian women workers from Grunwick to Gate Gourmet’. The book centred on two industrial disputes, the famous Grunwick strike (1976-78) and the Gate Gourmet dispute that erupted in 2005. Focusing on these two events, their book explores the nature of South Asian women’s contribution to the struggles for workers’ rights in the UK labour market. The authors examine histories of migration and settlement of two different groups of women of South Asian origin, and how this history, their gendered, classed and racialised inclusion in the labour market, the context of industrial relations in the UK in the two periods and the nature of the trade union movement shaped the trajectories and the outcomes of the two disputes.

Pascal Robinson, We Own It – ‘We Own it’ campaign for increased public ownership and accountability of services and industries in the UK. Pascal will be outlining their ambitious campaign to bring a fair, publicly-run franchise system for Manchester’s buses, improving services and ensuring public money for buses our region is spent on transport, not simply sidelined into profits for shareholders. He will be exploring how unions and campaign groups can work together to win for workers and the wider public. 

Anthony Hays (TUC Digital) –  Anthony Hays is an expert in digital organising and will be sharing his wealth of experience from the TUC’s Digital Organising team, working on scores of UK union campaigns, to give you some ideas on how you can harness the power of digital in your own branches and workplaces. 

This is an event not to be missed. Last year, over 200 activists attended Skills for Strength, making it our largest yet. We’ve now opened registration, and definitely encourage you to register soon in order to avoid disappointment – we do often become oversubscribed.


It’s absolutely free to attend if you’re a UNISON activist in the North West, and you can register online today, or by completing the attached application form. Registration closes on 15th February, but it’s worth registering now if you can, to be sure to reserve your place.

Skills-for-Strength-2019-Registration-Form 2019

Hope to see you there on March 16th. 

Best wishes,

James Bull
Regional Organiser

Retired Members AGM Details

Please see attached. 

Retired Members AGM – Friday, 25th January 2019

Let’s Fix Probation Campaign

Here is the link to the new UNISON ‘Let’s Fix Probation’ campaign leaflet:

The bulletin gives details of the major new campaign which UNISON is launching to propose our alternative for the future of Probation. UNISON has a clear alternative to the government’s plans set out in ‘Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence’. Whereas the government wants to continue with the disastrous split in Probation and to reward the CRC owners with even bigger private contracts,     our campaign aims to see Probation reconstructed as a locally run, locally managed and locally democratically accountable service, free from the centralising tendency and control of HMPPS.

Probation is going to change in 2020 come what may. UNISON aims to make the change a positive one.

Any questions, just let me know.



Ben Priestley

National Officer

Local Government , Police and Justice


130 Euston Road



Unison Prepaid Cashback Card

Members can win back the cost of Christmas which is estimated to be £751! 

All members have to do is apply for the UNISON Prepaid Plus Cashback card by 31st December 2018. 

Visit for the prize draw rules and apply for your prepaid card. 


Interserve shares fall as growing debt sparks fears over its finances

Quarterly update reveals UK outsourcer will owe £50m more than expected by end of year

Angela Monaghan

Fri 23 Nov 2018 14.48 GMTFirst published on Fri 23 Nov 2018 11.33 GMT


Interserve shares fell after its quarterly report.
 Interserve shares fell after its quarterly report. Photograph: Jansos/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

Shares in Interserve fell 7% on Friday morning after the government contractor said debts this year would be higher than previously expected, reigniting investor jitters about the financial health of the firm.

The company, which carries out building work and provides services such as cleaning, said debts would be between £625m and £650m by the end of the year, having earlier said debts would be £575m to £600m.

It comes a week after Interserve was forced to comment on the state of its finances, after shares tumbled to a 30-year low over fears it was heading the same way as Carillion, the rival outsourcing firm that collapsed in January.

The drop was prompted by an update from waste-to-product manufacturer Renewi, which said Interserve had missed a deadline on a joint venture in Derby that aims to produce energy from waste. The update prompted speculation that Interserve may be forced to set aside more cash to compensate for delays.Advertisement

In a trading update for the first nine months of the year on Friday, Interservechief executive Debbie White said the firm was focused on reducing debts, getting its finances in order and exiting its energy from waste business.

“The board remains focused on positioning the group for long-term, sustainable success. To this end we will announce a deleveraging plan for the group early in 2019,” she said.

“Interserve has significant opportunities as a best-in-class partner to the public and private sector, and we are working with all stakeholders to put in place the right standards, services, governance and financing to deliver a stronger future for Interserve’s customers and our 74,000 people.”

The company said it was expecting a “significant” improvement in operating profit in 2018, in line with previous expectations.

But investors were not reassured. In early trading after the update, shares slid to just 32p, the lowest level since 1984.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the firm’s debt pile continues to weigh on shares.

He said: “Chief executive Debbie White and her team are clearly doing their best to steady the ship at Interserve but the admission that net debt will end the year higher than expected, not helped by how the cash inflow from the troubled energy-from-waste business will be lower than hoped, means the company has yet to reassure shareholders and potential investors about the key issues that face it.”

Interserve, which provides a range of services for schools, hospitals and government departments across the UK, agreed a £300m rescue plan in March, at a time of heightened pressure on the outsourcing sector and in the wake of Carillion’s collapse under a mountain of debt.

In Friday’s trading update the company said that during the third quarter it had encountered more delays to its energy-from-waste programme.

“The group continues to expect a net cash inflow in the second half following the receipt of certain milestone payments, although additional penalties resulting from these delays means that this inflow is expected to be less than anticipated at the time of the group’s half year report at circa £15m,” it said.

Mould said some investors would wonder why Interserve was waiting until 2019 to unveil a new plan designed to reduce debt, “when the share price slide suggests the company’s situation remains acute”.

He added: “The lower the share price goes, the more shares Interserve will have to issue, and the more dilution shareholders may suffer, should management decide that an equity raising is required to buffer the company’s finances.”


I head up UNISON’s legal services and I wanted to get in touch to remind you what legal protection your UNISON membership provides.

If you’ve been treated unfairly at work, UNISON will be there to back you up. Your branch should be your first port of call and hopefully a legal resolution won’t be required – but if it comes to it and we think you have a reasonable case, we’ll be there to fight your corner and hold your employer to account. 

If you have an accident or injury at work – or even outside of work – your UNISON membership provides legal cover. You probably see lots of ‘no win, no fee’ adverts but our personal injury cover is better – it’s free and if you win, you keep 100% of your compensation. Plus we work with top lawyers at industry leading specialists, Thompsons Solicitors. But UNISON will be with you every step of the way.

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Free accident or injury cover

There are lots of other legal benefits and services you can access as part of your UNISON membership – even your family are covered in some instances. Browse our website and familiarise yourself with what you’re entitled to. 

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Overview of UNISON’s legal services

And not to blow our own trumpet but we’re also out there fighting big legal battles on behalf of all of our members, on issues like tribunal fees and sleep-ins, to change the law and make work fairer for everyone.

But as great as my team are, I hope you never need to contact us – although if you do, knowing what support is available could help you protect yourself and your family.

Best wishes,

Adam Creme
Head of Legal Services

UNISON Skills for Strength 2019

UNISON Skills for Strength 2019 Registration now open: Learn how we can build our union and win

 Skills-for-Strength-2019-Registration-Form 2019

Dear Colleague,

Skills for Strength is UNISON North West’s annual organising convention, where activists gather to share ideas with each other and learn from a plethora of speakers from across the breadth of our movement, and from across the world, in a series of practical workshops on how to effectively build union power and improve workers’ lives in challenging times. It takes place over one Saturday in March, and is open to all activists in our region.

This year, over 200 activists attended, making it our largest yet. We’ve now opened registration for next year’s event, and would like to extend an invitation to you to join us and a host of exciting speakers on Saturday 16th March 2019. 

You can register online for free at , or by completing the attached registration form. Registration is free and lunch is provided, but you would need to claim any travel expenses incurred from your local UNISON branch. Registration closes on 15th February 2019 but we expect the event could be oversubscribed, so it’s worth registering early if you’d like to be part of it.

I hope you can join us in March next year to discuss and learn from each other, alongside some leading campaigners in our movement, in preparation from the challenges which lie ahead. In the meantime, we’ll be in touch when we have further announcements on special guest speakers and other finalised details.

Best Wishes,

James Bull

Regional Organiser, East Team

UNISON North West
Arena Point, 1 Hunts Bank
Manchester, M3 1UN

Winter fuel grant programme

We are delighted to forward details of the 2018/19 Winter Fuel Grant Programme. Anything you can do that will ensure members on the lowest of income receive all the information that they need to apply would be very much appreciated.

Included with this e mail is the application form and survey (applicants must complete the application form and are encouraged to complete the survey please) and a Q&A leaflet which we hope will provide the answers to any questions members may have. 

Please note:

We are unable to process incomplete applications, so to stand the best chance of successfully qualifying for the grant, please make sure members are aware of the importance of filling in the form correctly and sending all documents with the application. 

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Download poster

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Download application form

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Download Q&A

This programme officially launches on Monday 3 December 2018 and closes on Friday 15 February 2019.

Best wishes

Julie Grant
Head of UNISON Welfare


Dear Colleagues

I am writing to confirm that we are entering into a major dispute with Alternative Futures Group, a learning disability provider in the North West.

AFG has announced that they are removing “top up” from the pay of support workers in the service.   “Top up” was paid so that staff pay was in conformity with the national minimum wage legislation.   The removal of “top up” would mean staff on poverty pay face pay cuts from November of £30 to more than £100 per week.

We have 700 AFG members affected by the proposals working in all Councils area across the North West.  The members are all based in  Bridgewater Health branch

Region has organised meetings with members across the North West and the response from staff from the meetings held to date has been very strong.  We are looking at escalating industrial action, i.e. a ban on sleep ins.  More meetings are planned.  A public petition has also expressed strong support for the dispute – 12,000 plus signatures to date.

The Council Commissioners have also been written to.  The responses to date have shown that none of them are cutting learning disability monies and, therefore, the AFG cuts are not justified.

We are looking, therefore, to initiate a formal industrial action ballot across AFG immediately in the New Year.  This is the earliest date for a capable ballot.  The members will, of course, welcome any support from individual branches on this dispute.

I will keep affected branches and regional colleagues advised of progress.

Yours sincerely

Tim Ellis

Regional Organiser

Win prizes and save money during November with UNISON!

UNISON has turned November into Grovember. We’re welcoming new members to Britain’s biggest union – and thanking existing members – with exclusive money-saving offers. And there’s a chance to win £1,000 in time for Christmas if you recruit a friend

UNISON is now, officially, the UK’s largest union. We’ve come through the toughest years of public service cuts and kept our union strong. At a time when we might have expected to see a collapse in membership, UNISON has held steady. We did that by keeping our focus on what’s important to members, fighting for their jobs and their pay and high-profile campaigning.

We’ve minimised the impact of austerity by recruiting more strongly than ever before, but job losses have still meant membership losses. However, now we have the chance to turn the tide – and grow our union.

Discounts for SeaLife Centres, London Eye and more

Discounts on Motown and other theatre tickets

Refer a friend and enter a draw for £1,000

But why is it so important to be bigger?

As someone once said, size matters! Very simply, more members means a stronger union – a louder and stronger voice in pay negotiations, for example. And – to take it to a higher level! – we passionately believe that every single person working in public services would benefit from being in a union and we all have a real moral duty to reach out to them. Whether you’re working in a town hall or a private care home, you are a public service worker and you need the strength of UNISON around you.

But I’m already a member, what’s all this got to do with me?

Everything! You’re in the perfect position to tell your colleagues who aren’t members, why they should join UNISON. Or talk to your friends and family. If you know a public service worker who isn’t a member of UNISON, start talking.

Refer a friend and win Christmas spending money!

And as a thank you, if you successfully recruit a new member during November we will enter you into a prize draw to win one prize of £1,000 and 4 runners up prizes of £500, thanks to our UNISON Living partners LV and Lighthouse financial services.

Refer a friend and enter a draw for £1,000

Exclusive member offers during November

We’d like to thank existing members for being a member and we’d like to welcome all the new members to the UNISON family, so we’ve negotiated amazing deals during November, just in time for Christmas!

There are amazing discounts of up to 58% off at Merlin Entertainments on their range of family attractions – from SeaLife Centres around the country to London Eye and the Blackpool Tower. Click here now and remember these offers are only for UNISON members, so start having fun!

Discounts for London Eye, SeaLife centres and more

Haven holidays are also offering UNISON members an exclusive extra 10% off their discounted holidays – which are already 25% off for breaks throughout 2019. Call Haven on 0333 202 5247 and quote EMB_UNISON at the time of booking to get your extra discount.

And finally take in a trip to the theatre – and save money on an exclusive UNISON-only deal with UK-wide discounted theatre ticket prices of up to 60% with UNISON members getting an exclusive extra 10% off at checkout. 

Discounts on Motown and other theatre tickets


Petition – Alternative Futures Group


Alternative Futures Group (AFG) is a major North West provider of care services for adults with learning disabilities and employs around 700 UNISON members.

AFG is planning to remove top-up payments for staff working sleep-in shifts from January 2019.  This will amount to a loss of up to £90 per week for AFG’s dedicated care workers and take those workers to below National Minimum Wage rates for sleep-ins.  

UNISON NW is currently in dispute with the employer and will shortly launch a consultative ballot for industrial action.

We have also launched a petition (click on link below) and ask that you please sign and circulate as widely as possible.


Dear Colleagues

Please find attached a UNISON NPS Bulletin which I would be grateful if you could send to all NPS members as soon as possible.

UNISON members have voted overwhelmingly to accept the National Probation Service pay modernisation offer in our ballot which closed at 5pm today. The voting was as follows:

·         90% to accept the pay offer

·         10% to reject the pay offer

There was a 49% turnout in the ballot, which is very credible and a reflection of the hard work put into the consultation process by regions, branches and activists. Thanks to everyone who played a part in putting our consultation materials in front of members and dealing with questions and queries during the consultation process.

Given that both Napo and GMB/SCOOP members have also voted to accept the pay offer, it is expected that most NPS members will see the pay award in their November pay packets.

UNISON is continuing to represent the interests of ex-private sector enforcement officers in relation to the NPS pay award and their own personal harmonisation circumstances.

UNISON appreciates that information about the NPS pay award will be of great interest to members working for the CRCs. UNISON’s policy is to maintain a broadly comparable pay and grading system across the NPS and the CRCs, so, as the NPS pay offer has now been accepted by NPS members, we will  want to deliver comparable benefits for our CRC members. UNISON’s aim is to see the Probation Service reunited, so we do not want to see big differences in pay and conditions across the NPS/CRC split.

Please let me have any questions on the bulletin.



Ben Priestley

National Officer

NPS Pay Ballot Bulletin- November 2018