Members will now be aware that a NAPO Trade Dispute has been lodged with the Secretary of State for Justice in relation to the lack of progress, or agreement, in the negotiations over the Transforming Rehabilitation programme at the National Negotiating Council (NNC). Napo has followed this by announcing its intention to ballot its members for industrial action.

UNISON has not registered a trade dispute at this stage, because we are currently consulting members on the draft NNC Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement. This is with a view to returning to the negotiating table at the end of the 28 day consultation period.

However, we cannot rule out problems occurring in the negotiations and we have to be prepared for the possibility that talks might run into difficulties over key issues that cannot be agreed. If this happens, UNISON reserves our right to declare an appropriate trade dispute and initiate an industrial action ballot to protect members’ interests. No trade union undertakes industrial action lightly, but UNISON will not stand by if members are going to lose out in the transfer process.

With this in mind, UNISON’s National Probation Committee has already given authority to hold a ballot for industrial action should that become necessary to defend members’ interests.

When we surveyed members in July, 99% of members said that they opposed the government’s probation reforms and 85% said that they would be prepared to undertake industrial action if necessary, up to an including strike action, to defend their job, terms and conditions and pensions.

UNISON respects the timetable that Napo has chosen to register its trade dispute, and its intention to ballot its members for industrial action. In doing so, Napo is working to an existing mandate from its last annual conference and a recent meeting of its national executive committee. UNISON and Napo have been in close touch over the implications of the Napo campaign strategy for our joint working. Our earlier joint statement on working together acknowledges the potential for co-ordinating industrial action in the future if this becomes necessary. UNISON will continue to work in close partnership with Napo and GMB to protect the interests of our joint membership.

From Monday UNISON will run a program of member consultation so watch this space!!!