Serco employees are alleged to have falsified documents to make it look like prisoners had been delivered to court on time.
The company is already under investigation by the Ministry of Justice for overcharging the taxpayer for electronic tagging, along with rival firm G4S.
GraylinG4s, the Privatisation Secretary, said: “It’s become very clear there has been a culture within parts of Serco that has been totally unacceptable, and actions which need to be investigated by the police.
Please take couple of minutes to visit the Unions Together website and sign the letter to Cameron and Osborne
Forty years on from the Dagenham Ford workers’ famous strikes for equal pay, which led to the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, it’s clear that problems persist.
Trade unions in general and the Northwest Probation and CAFCASS branch of UNISON in particular have always been at the fore of promoting equality but, forty years after the introduction of the equal Pay Act the Fawcett Society (the UK’s leading campaign for equality between women and men) declared last Wednesday “Equal Pay Day” as it says that generally speaking women will effectively work for nothing from the 7th November until January 1 as a result of the gender pay gap of 14.9%.
In a report back in 2010 the society called upon government to ensure gender pay audits for companies with over 250 employees, and extend flexible working to all and encourage shared parenting.
But forty years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act research shows that for every £100 men take home, women only get £85 – a clear indicator of ingrained inequalities. With women bearing the brunt of the country’s Conservative – driven cutbacks because a huge number of women work in the public sector, which is the prime target of an all-out Condem assault.
Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society says it’s only going to get worse.
“The workforce is experiencing dramatic change, with around three-quarters of a million public-sector jobs predicted to go by 2017,” she says. “Plans to pull down public-sector pay to reflect local private-sector rates will also hit women harder than men, while the recently floated policy of enabling workers to ‘sell off’ progressive employment rights in exchange for company shares also threatens to further drive down women’s wages.
“At the same time, women’s unemployment stands at a record 24-year high and growing numbers of women have been forced into low paid, part-time and insecure employment – ‘underemployment.’ “The government is pinning its hopes on the hundreds of thousands of women who will make up the majority of those losing their jobs being able to find work in the private sector.”
Only last month women workers at Birmingham City Council won a Supreme Court case over equal pay and thousands of women will now be able to claim compensation for pay they never received simply because they are women.
Lawyers said the victory would have “huge implications” and with echoes of the Dagenham women’s fight in 1970 this landmark case could prove the key to unlocking the doors that lead to equality.
The gender split within the probation trusts across the country is around 60% women and 40% men with women well represented at all levels of management. And whilst this can be attributed to policies that promote equality which are administered by fair minded people it also goes without saying that the tireless efforts of Unison have and will continue to promote equality in the workplace and wider society.
Kev Allsop, Chair
Northwest Probation and Cafcass UNISON 20085
Public Services, delivered by the Public Sector, without Prejudice or Profit
I have been contacted by the PR lead for the Probation Association who wants as many of you as possible to write to your MP to ask them to sign Early Day Motion 622. The EDM supports probation’s recent achievements and I have reproduced it in full below. The conclusion of the Probation Review is due out imminently and the service faces a great deal of change during the next few months, it is reassuring to see that politicians from across the political spectrum have chosen this moment to support the work we are doing. I believe doing as much as possible to raise awareness about probation among MPs is particularly important at this time, and EDM 622 seeks to achieve that aim.
EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons by MPs, and although very few are actually debated, they allow politicians to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions. Asking your MP to sign the motion is best achieved by writing to them, notifying them about the EDM and encouraging them to give it their support. To find out who your MP is and where to address the letter, please log onto: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ . If you struggle to get the details, please feel free to contact Kevin Allsop Branch Chair: email@example.com
MPs should reply to your letter and I would be most grateful if you could forward their correspondence to me so that I can collate the information for future reference.
EDM 622 has so far being backed by 34 MPs from across the political spectrum, including four of the region’s representatives. For more details, click on the link below. The EDM’s text is beneath the link.
Please find a link to issue Number 7 of the Police & Justice Magazine which covers the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in England and Wales (except London) on 15 November.
I marched through Glasgow on the 20th with fellow trade unionist from dozens of different unions. I was proud to represent the Northwest Probation and CAFCASS branch and took the opportunity to speak about the works that our members do, the climate in which we work and the threats that we face.
LGPS 2014 PROPOSALS – EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT PUBLISHED
1. EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The equality impact assessment (EIA) on the LGPS 2014 proposals has now been published and has been posted on the UNISON Pensions web site at http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/LGPS2014EIAReport.pdf.
The EIA was carried out by Diverse Cymru – an independent Welsh equality consultancy – at the request of the joint negotiating team, consisting of the LGA, UNISON , GMB and Unite. It covers Workstream 1 of the negotiations over LGPS 2014 – the proposals which over 90% of UNISON members taking part in the recent ballot have accepted. It does not touch on the current or previous versions of the LGPS.
The EIA has taken longer than expected, due to the extent of the detail covered by the proposals and required to be covered in the EIA by the negotiating team.
Why an EIA?
The general Public Sector Equality Duty requires public bodies to have ‘due regard’ to the need to:
• Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
• Advance Equality of Opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it
• Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it
The ‘relevant protected characteristics’ (PC’s) are age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. Marriage and civil partnership are only covered by the first requirement above – the elimination of unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
There is a requirement to collect data across the PC’s to meet the above requirements.
General findings of the EIA
• There was a lack of available equality data especially for sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity and religion or belief
• The requirement to collect PC data is ‘relatively new’ and would cover over 5000 LGPS employers
• Diverse Cymru ‘strongly recommend’ that the lack of data is addressed as a priority issue by ‘collating or putting in place mechanisms to collect data across all PC groups’
• Since collection of quantitative data is likely to take some time, qualitative data ‘to help evidence/inform a more definitive viewpoint’ should be collected in the interim
• Data on ‘opted outs’ should also be gathered
• Future information on the LGPS should follow Plain English, Easy Read and Cymraeg Clir guidelines
• It should also be available in community languages and other accessible formats on request
• The availability of these formats should be advertised in a large print, clear statement
EIA RESPONSE TO KEY ASPECTS OF LGPS 2014
CARE with 1/49 accrual and CPI revaluation
• This proposal would disproportionately impact on high earners and those likely to experience career progression
• It would be an improvement for those on low pay and with low progression prospects
• It would be helpful to ensure that LGPS members are aware of the different basis of the LGPS
Pensionable pay to include additional hours and non-contractual overtime
• Positive for part-time workers who work additional hours – most of whom are women
• Likely to be beneficial for disabled people, who are more likely to work part-time than non-disabled people
New contribution bands and rates
• Contributions based on actual earnings – not full time equivalent – will benefit the 47% of women and 7% of male employees eligible to join the LGPS who work part-time
• Since 95% of members will have no contribution increase, all protected groups will benefit, unless amongst the 5% of high earners facing contribution increases
• Annual benefits statements will ensure that high earning members are aware of benefits accrued and the ability to purchase additional pension
Introduction of the 50/50 option
• Could be positive for people facing short-term financial difficulty
• But could lead to some women and disabled people facing poverty in retirement
• Should have the positive effect of increasing the opportunity for lower paid women employees to save for retirement
Normal Pension Age (NPA) to equal State Pension Age (SPA)
• Raising the SPA to 66, 67 and beyond will have a disproportionate impact on men as their life expectancy is 3.8 years less than women’s
• Retiring at 67 only gives men 11.1 years pension on average, compared to 15.1 years for women
• Life expectancy is likely to be shorter for disabled people, who would also suffer a greater loss of pension than women in general
• This is also likely to be true of some black and ethnic minority (BME) groups
Reducing the vesting period to two years
• This would be less attractive to short-term employees, especially those on the lower pay points, who might be more likely to be women or younger people
• The protections for those nearing retirement will have a positive impact for men and probably white people who predominate in the higher earners group
ACTION PLAN TO ADDRESS ISSUES IDENTIFIED BY THE EIA
The actions for the LGPS negotiating team and future Governance Board identified in the EIA process are:
• Put ‘robust mechanisms’ in place for collection of PC data not available
• Seek qualitative feedback via contact with scheme members, PC groups or existing trade union PC groups
• Seek qualitative feedback via member surveys or focus groups of PC members
• Use both quantitative and qualitative data to act on any adverse impact
• Introduce processes by which equality issues can be raised in an easily accessible and safe manner
• Produce regular information and briefings
• Ensure that information on the LGPS is available in a range of formats and languages
The branch is looking to send representatives to ‘A Future That Works’ – mass TUC demonstration in London on 20 October. There are limited funds available to support those who express an interest in attending.
More information on this event can be found on the TUC website:
If you would like to attend please can you register your interest by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 7th September so a decision can be made at the September branch meeting at how many people can be supported to attend.
MAJORITY SAY VOTE “YES” TO THE LGPS!
Following the branch consultation agreed at the Local Government Conference, the five Service Group Executives within the LGPS met on 19 July to receive Regional reports from the branch consultation and make their recommendations for the forthcoming ballot. The branch consultations were overwhelmingly in favour of recommending acceptance of the LGPS 2014 proposals.
The five Service Groups – and their respective memberships – are:
Local Government 580,000
Police and Justice 40,000
Higher Education 19,000
Water, Environment and Transport 6,000
(20/07/12) Members covered by Local Government Pension Scheme in England and Wales are being urged to vote yes to a new LGPS 2014 scheme when they are balloted this month.
In all around 660,000 members in five UNISON service groups will be covered by the ballot, including:
580,000 members in local government;
40,000 in police and justice;
19,000 in higher education;
17,000 in community;
6,000 in the water, environment and transport service group.
The local government, police and justice, community and WET service groups are all recommending that members vote ‘yes’ in the ballot. The higher education service group is recommending that members vote ‘no’.
Heather Wakefield, national secretary for local government and police and justice, who led the negotiations for UNISON says: “After months of talks, led by UNISON, we now want you to have your say on the proposals for the new Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS 2014).
“UNISON is recommending that members vote yes in the ballot, because we believe that these proposals give most LGPS members – and especially women and low paid workers, who are the majority of members – a better pension deal.
“It is vital that members make their voice heard.
“Please tell your members to look out for their ballot paper which is being sent direct to the home addresses of all UNISON members who are in the LGPS or eligible to join.”
The LGPS Scrutiny Group has decided on a joint ballot. It will run from 31 July to 24 August, and members can vote by post or online.
In Scotland, pensions are a devolved matter for the Scottish government and the Scottish LGPS is a separate scheme, with no clear proposals to change it. The LGPS in Northern Ireland is covered by different regulations and proposals are still under discussion.
Whilst the government continue to promote the third sector as an innovative/efficient alternative to public sector service providers, the reality is somewhat different. The case below highlights the fundamental flaws in their plans. If the third sector cannot raise capital whilst awaiting payment then does this not just open the door for the likes of G4S to consume these bodies with their financial might and hence take on contracts by default.
Is the third sector reference merely a government smokescreen to hand public services to the private sector? We think yes.
The government’s controversial welfare to work initiative has suffered another blow after it emerged that a social enterprise firm hired to get the long-term jobless into employment has gone into liquidation, claiming banks refused to lend it money to stay afloat because they considered the work programme to be too financially risky.
Eco Actif, a community interest company based in Sutton, Surrey, closed suddenly on Friday morning. It provided employment support for around 500 people in the south-east of London, operating as a subcontractor in a regional supply chain headed by the welfare to work company A4e.
Its chief executive, Amanda Palmer-Roye, said Eco-Actif had performed well in getting people into work and had a £1m order book but had been unable to raise the capital to sustain itself under the government’s payment by results system, under which firms must wait 18 months between delivery and payment.
In a letter to staff, Palmer-Roye said Eco Actif had approached both conventional banks and social finance providers for backing but had been refused on the grounds that the work programme was too high-risk and that “prime contractors are not passing sufficient funds to the ultimate delivery organisations to make sufficient surplus to finance any loan”.
The letter added that its association with A4E had been a matter of great concern to potential investors. A4e has been in the headlines in recent months over allegations of fraud, and because of the furore over the £8.6m dividend payment made to its former chair, Emma Harrison.
Palmer-Roye has in the past been an enthusiastic champion of the coalition’s approach to welfare. She supported the Centre for Social Justice thinktank set up by the work and pensions minister, Iain Duncan Smith. Eco Actif was preparing to for a visit next week by Duncan Smith’s special advisor, Philippa Stroud. But Palmer-Roye told the Guardian she had become disillusioned by ministers’ refusals to listen to her complaints that the work programme was not working in the interests of charities and social enterprises, or the vulnerable people they worked with. “I realised I have been beating my head against a brick wall,” she said.
Before the last general election Palmer-Roye had helped host a meeting in Sutton at which the then leader of the opposition, David Cameron, outlined his plans to give charities and social enterprises a bigger role in the provision of public services. She said: “I believed it when Cameron said all that ‘the third sector should be the first sector’ stuff. I really did believe all that crap.”
Separate to its south-east London contract, Eco Actif had been signed up by three prime contractors – A4e, G4S and CDG – to provide ad hoc specialist work programme support to ex-offenders. But Palmer-Roye said it had not received a single referral under these arrangements, putting its finances under further strain.
Eco Actif, which had a turnover of around £700,000 and employed 14 people when it closed, was established six years ago as one of the earliest social enterprise “spin outs” from local government, delivering training in horticulture and construction to disadvantaged young people. It also holds a European Social Fund contract to provide support to workless families.
Yesterday evening a petition was set up on the Govt epetition website as part of the campaign against the South West Pay Cartel and against postcode pay. A circular will also be sent out to all health branches about this campaign and about the impact it could have on AfC and across the NHS.
It would be great if colleagues could please support the petition by signing it but also promoting it to colleagues, branches and activists. Over 200 people have signed already, in just a few hours overnight.
The link is here:
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36063This campaign has also been covered in the Sunday Times, today’s Telegraph, will be on Radio 5 Live at lunchtime and has featured lots in local SW media and on local tv and radio. If you are on Twitter/Facebook please spread the word too if at all possible.
Thanks everybody for this. If you have any questions about the campaign please do let me know.
** #StopTheCartel #SaveOurNHS #NoToPostcodePay **
Lead Officer for North West Health
UNISON, the UK’s biggest union, which represents 5,000 staff working for the Probation Service, today hit back at the Ministry of Justice’s decision to sell off Community Payback in London to Serco. The private company is set to take over the running of this vital service by October this year.
Among the union’s fears over the sell off is that the profit motive will creep into probation work, that accountability will suffer, people on probation will get a worse service, and those working hard to provide the service will also pay the price.
London is the only region of the country where Community Payback work will be sold off. The government initially planned to sell off Community Payback work nationwide, but following criticism from the Parliamentary Justice Committee, the plans were dropped.
Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer for police staff said:
“In recent months, the pitfalls of privatisation have been exposed. G4S have run into problems with their Olympics contract, poor standards of care have been exposed at Winterbourne View, and elderly people have had their futures jeopardised at Southern Cross who put profits before people. The consequences of the Ministry of Justice’s decision to sell this service off are deeply worrying.”
UNISON will work with Serco to try and ensure that London’s Community Payback remains a good quality service and a decent place to work. It added that it will make sure that the Ministry of Justice is held to account for any repercussions that arise from the flawed decision to privatise.
UNISON’s key privatisation fears:
· Community Payback is a huge part of Probation Trusts’ work; if they lose it (as London now has) they may find that community links and financial viability suffers
· Community Payback is a local service which will not respond to remote regional level contracts
· Making a profit out of the unpaid work of offenders is morally offensive
· The private sector is not accountable in the same way as the public sector; e.g. none of the companies bidding for this work is subject to the Freedom of Information Act
· Private sector companies are driven primarily by the need to maximise profit, rather than deliver public service
· None of the previous privatisations undertaken by the Ministry of Justice or National Offender Management Service has been a success, with many of the contracts leading to poorer services at a higher cost to the taxpayer
Community Payback, previously known as community service, is a community sentence passed by the courts as an alternative to expensive and ineffective short term prison sentences. When an offender is sentenced to such a community order he or she has to provide unpaid work, under the supervision of the Probation Service, on projects to clear up parks and open spaces, paint buildings, remove graffiti or work with charities. Local people can nominate projects which they would like the Probation Service to run under Community Payback.
Article from BBC website today – of course this is factually incorrect as London Probation management decided to be a subcontractor of Serco and our former ACO Liz Calderbank is spot on in her comments – Vance
A private security company has won a contract to supervise offenders on probation doing unpaid work in the community.
It is the first time a major area of probation work has been out-sourced to the private sector.
The company, Serco, in a joint bid with the London Probation Trust, won the contract to run community payback schemes across London.
About 15,000 offenders are given the sentence every year.
The Ministry of Justice said the four-year contract would save taxpayers £25m.
The government has proposed opening up more community sentence services to the private and voluntary sector as part of its review into probation.
Earlier this week, the chief inspector of probation for England and Wales, Liz Calderbank, warned about the dangers of contracting out probation services.
Writing in the inspectorate’s annual report, Ms Calderbank said she had “concerns” the plans would make it harder to manage medium-risk offenders who commit most serious further offences.
She said it would be “regrettable” if services became fragmented as a result of more providers being involved, as this would increase the potential for communication problems.
Serco was chosen for the London contract ahead of consortia involving Sodexo/Essex Probation Trust; and Mitie/A4E.
BALLOT ON LGPS 2014 PROPOSALS AND INFORMATION FOR BRIEFING MEMBERS
This year’s Local Government Conference voted to carry out a widespread consultation with members over the LGPS 2014 proposals before the postal ballot of members which starts on 31 July and ends on 24 August.
Regions have been asked to ensure that every effort is made to brief as many UNISON members – and non-members – as possible on the proposals. We want to ensure that every member knows what the proposals say, has the chance to vote and that we get a big turnout.
Pension Contacts and Champions can play a crucial role in helping to brief members and recruit new members to UNISON on the back of the proposals.
Please make sure you:
• Look on the LGPS page on the UNISON Pensions website to keep informed and get essential information – http://www.unison.org.uk/pensions/lgps.aspThere are briefings on all aspects of the proposals and some examples illustrating the benefits of the new proposals for part-time workers and comparing the outcomes of the existing scheme with LGPS 2014.
You will also find a PowerPoint presentation and accompanying notes for proposals.
Please do whatever you can to let members in your “patch” know what’s in the proposals and encourage them to vote in the ballot.
What About School Holidays?
Unfortunately our ballot has to be completed before the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) starts its formal consultation on the new scheme from 2014 in September.
DCLG, Minister Bob Neill has promised that the LGPS 2014 will form the basis of the statutory consultation – if agreed.
We are making every effort to ensure that every eligible member has the chance to vote.
Please tell members in your workplace to make arrangements to get their ballot paper if they are going to be away or vote on-line. (Arrangements for on-line voting will be announced shortly).
Key Facts About LGPS 2014 Proposals and LGPS Members
• 90% of members will pay the same contributions as now
• All part-time workers and those earning between £15,801 and £21,000 will pay less in LGPS 2014
• Over 55% of local government workers work part-time
• Only those earning over £43,001 will pay more
• They make up just 4% of LGPS members
• 95.6% members earn less than £43,000 – the point at which contributions increase
• The LGPS 2014 will deliver a better pension than LGPS 2008 for members until 20 – 25 years of membership
• But the average length of membership in the scheme is just 7 years, so most members will do better in LGPS 2014
• From 1 April 2014 the Normal Pension Age (NPA) will be linked to the State Pension Age – which is set to rise to 68 between 2044 and 2046
• But many members retire before 62, so the increase in NPA will not affect them
• Those who have to work longer will get a bigger pension because they will be paying contributions – and benefitting from employer contributions for longer
• Because all earnings will be pensionable – including non-contractual overtime and additional hours for part-time workers – members will have bigger pensions than now
• Most UNISON members not in the LGPS give cost and low pay as the reason. The “50/50 option” will help them to join
Recruit and Organise
You will soon receive a recruitment leaflet based on the LGPS 2014 proposals. PLEASE USE IT! Many low-paid and part-time members will be able to join the LGPS for the first time because of UNISON’s negotiations – and most members will pay no more for the same – or better pension.
This is a big achievement in the face of a hostile government which wanted to end defined benefit pensions, increase contributions and worsen benefits.
Let non-members know what UNISON has done and will continue to do for our members.
We need more and more members to show the employers that we have got the industrial strength to resist attacks on pensions, pay, jobs and conditions. So carry on organising! Contact Indira Patel, email@example.com if you would like to be a UNISON pension contact or champion.
Join UNISON online www.unison.org.uk/join or call 0845 355 0845
The Local Government Association (LGA) and trade unions have today announced the outcome of their negotiations on new LGPS proposals (for England and Wales) to take effect from 1st April 2014.
These proposals will now be communicated to scheme members, employers, funds and other scheme interests. Unions will consult their members over these proposals and the LGA will consult employers. The government has confirmed that a favourable outcome of our consultations will enable them to move directly to a statutory consultation later in the Autumn to implement these proposals.
The main provisions of the proposed LGPS 2014 are:
1 A Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) scheme using CPI as the revaluation factor (the current scheme is a final salary scheme).
2 The accrual rate would be 1/49th (the current scheme is 1/60th).
3 There would be no normal scheme pension age, instead each member’s Normal Pension Age (NPA) would be their State Pension Age (the current scheme has an NPA of 65).
4 Average member contributions to the scheme would be 6.5% (same as the current scheme) with the rate determined on actual pay (the current scheme determines part-time contribution rates on full time equivalent pay). While there would be no change to average member contributions, the lowest paid would pay the same or less and the highest paid would pay higher contributions on a more progressive scale after tax relief.
5 Members who have already or are considering opting out of the scheme could instead elect to pay half contributions for half the pension, while still retaining the full value of other benefits. This is known as the 50/50 option (the current scheme has no such flexible option).
6 For current scheme members, benefits for service prior to 1st April are protected, including remaining ‘Rule of 85’ protection. Protected past service continues to be based on final salary and current NPA.
7 Where scheme members are outsourced they will be able to stay in the scheme on first and subsequent transfers (currently this is a choice for the new employer).
All other terms remain as in the current scheme. Future scheme costs will be monitored and controlled to ensure stability and affordability of the LGPS. Further details on cost management and scheme governance will be released once the ongoing discussions in the next part of the LGPS 2014 project are complete.
Heather Wakefield, UNISON National Secretary Local Government, Police and Justice Section said:
“The negotiations over LGPS 2014 have been long and tough and have taken place in a demanding political and economic climate. The process has shown that UNISON, the LGA and the other local government unions can work productively together in the best interests of LGPS members and potential members.
LGPS 2014 is a sustainable, defined benefit scheme, which is designed to protect existing members and be affordable for the low paid and part-time workers who are its majority. Under exacting circumstances, we have achieved the best possible outcome.”
News from Colombia | on: Monday, 28 May 2012
Adolfo Devia, a leader of the SINTRAEMCALI city of Cali municipal workers’ union survived an assassination attempt on the 23rd of May, in which his brother was shot and killed. A 3 year-old girl was also wounded in the attack.
Jonhatan Devia was hit in the head. According to Jorge Ivan Velez, the President of SINTRAEMCALI, one of the attackers was wounded in the crossfire and has been captured.
SINTRAEMCALI reports having received death threats from the Black Eagles paramilitaries over recent weeks both by email and over the phone.
The union has been fighting to have 51 workers reinstated after they were illegally fired. Unison and other unions have called for the Colombian government to apply the law in the case of the 51 Cali workers. Both the ILO and the Colombian courts have ruled in favour of the workers, but the Colombian government has yet to reinstate them.
The killing highlights the continuing killings of trade unionists despite the commitments made by the Colombian government under the April 2011 Labour Action Plan. Since 1986 nearly 3,000 trade unionists have been killed in Colombia.
What future for a Public Probation Service?
This is the question that UNISON has been considering following the launch of the Government’s public consultation on the future of the Probation Service: ‘Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation Services’.
This much anticipated consultation document potentially opens the door to a very different probation world in which the bulk of probation work would be regularly put up for privatisation. The consultation document can been seen at the following address:
UNISON is in the process of putting together a full response which makes clear our views and our anger at many of the proposals. The Government consultation maps out a future in which around 70% of probation work will be up for privatisation. The only areas of work which will be kept in public sector would be: court reports, initial risk assessments and high risk offender management. The Government has made it clear that it sees the bulk of offender management being offered to the private sector alongside probation interventions. It is the Government’s view that competition will make probation work more effective in the future. UNISON totally rejects this. We have consistently asked the Government to prove its privatisation theory before it takes a hatchet to probation services, but ideology is winning the day over practical application.
UNISON does welcome the emphasis on localism in the consultation paper and the new commissioning role for Trusts which it suggests. This could see an end to the national Community Payback competition. However, we reject the need to have an artificial purchaser/provider split in each Trust, before they can commission local contracts for work. This would be an unnecessary waste of resources, which is not required in local authorities, nor in police authorities both which regularly commission services.
Key highlights of the Government proposals:
1. Around 70 % of probation work to be competed, including the bulk of offender management, but not the high risk element
2. Majority of commissioning to be carried out by individual trusts, however should an individual trust seek to provide the service it is commissioning, it will need to create a separate legal entity to bid for the work
3. A likely reduction in the numbers of probation trusts to ensure those that remain are sustainable
Trade Unions Submit Pay Claim for 2012
Having waited over 12 months to resolve the claim for 2011, UNISON and Napo have submitted our pay claim for 2012. UNISON consulted members widely on the submission and the response has enabled us to submit the following claim:
1. Incremental progression of 3, 2 or 1 pay point applicable to all staff on pay bands 1 – 6 depending on the position of staff in their pay band
2. A consolidated increase of at least £250 on all pay points in pay bands 1 and 2
3. A non-consolidated payment, worth at least £250, for all staff on pay bands 3, 4, 5 and 6
4. An increase to the London Allowance
5. The deletion of the lowest pay point in pay bands 1, 2, 3 and 4
6. A full review of the national Job Evaluation Scheme (this links to the Pay Modernisation agenda)
7. The following adjustment to the position of the development points in pay bands 1 and 2:
Pay band 1: development point to move from pay point 20 to pay point 22 and Pay band 2: development point to move from pay point 43 to pay point 45. In a letter to the probation employers, the Government made it clear that Probation was in its second year of its public sector pay freeze and so nobody would be allowed any cost of living increase other than that allowed for staff earning below £21,000. UNISON has reserved its position on these matters alongside our view that staff are entitled to 3 increments if below the development point in their pay band. We have agreed a first date for negotiations with the employers and we are looking for a speedy resolution so members can have any increase in their pockets now not a year later as was the case this time around.
UNISON continues to scrutinise Community Payback competition in London
UNISON is continuing to put pressure on NOMS regarding its plans to outsource Community Payback in London. The London area was the only area not to bring forward a public sector bid to run its own CP contract and was the first CP trust to go to competition. We have made regular interventions to NOMS on the competition and it is clear that the whole process has fallen into disrepute. It is of course still being pushed forward and UNISON and Napo have requested meetings with all the bidders for the service to ensure they understand our position and we can hear about their plans. UNISON has also been in correspondence with NOMS about the issue of London CP members’ pensions and the need to ensure they are protected. We became aware that a deal had been reached with London Trust to cover any excess liabilities and losses resulting from the transfer out of CP members. However, we still have not got to the bottom of what if any additional public money has been used to sweeten the pension terms. UNISON remains very concerned that this outsourcing will simply transfer hard pressed taxpayers’ money straight into the hands of the directors of the companies chosen to run the contracts.
Attacks on Facility Time
UNISON has published a guide for activists who are facing threats to facility time arrangements. The guide which can be found on the UNISON website at http://www.unison.org.uk/file/facility%20time%20guidance.pdf will support activists in the workplace make the case for preserving and enhancing this important function.
The attacks on facility time are being led by the ‘Tax Payers Alliance’ together with right wing conservative MP’s who are taking every opportunity to attack trade unions and the work they do. Following this pressure, the Tory-led Government is reviewing facility time arrangements within Government, which could lead to pressure within individual probation trusts to do the same.
UNISON and the TUC strongly reject these attacks as nothing more than ideological. In reality the work of UNISON activists in probation delivers real net gains within the organisation. They are skilled and trained workers who provide a direct link to the workforce for consultation, help resolve disputes, negotiate change and developments and support staff. We also help with training, development and lifelong learning and develop capacity. Alongside any facility time that probation employers give our reps, so much more is done in reps’ own time to ensure members receive a good service. This enables the workplace to be more productive and effective. The TUC calculate that trade union reps across the economy contribute anything from £1.2-3.6 billion in productivity gains.
If you are having problems with facility time please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodbye and Good luck
After 6 years served as the UNISON Probation Sector Committee Chairperson, Matthew Lay will be leaving his role at the start of June to take up a National Officer Role with UNISON at the UNISON Centre in London. Matthew, who became chair in 2006, played a key role in building the profile of UNISON’s probation members both within UNISON, and also within the probation profession. Today UNISON is recognised as a key player in the probation world and we enjoy positive partnerships with sister trade unions. We wish Matthew all the best for the future in his new role with UNISON and we prepare for the election of new national chair.
A portent of things to come
Over the last few months we have witnessed events which highlight why UNISON is so concerned about letting competition run riot through the Justice system. In South Yorkshire we had the unedifying site of probation staff locked out of prisons when it was announced that South Yorks Trust had teamed up with G4S as a partner in their bid to run 3 prisons, competing directly against the public sector prisons operation. In response, the public sector prisons decided that having South Yorks probation staff on the premises would compromise their commercial position as competitors and acted to remove them. Such was the magnitude of this development, NOMS acted swiftly to resolve the issue and get the probation staff back to work. It was clear that probation staff were just pawns in a bigger game about who will be running public services. UNISON believes this will a sign of things to come and the old spirit of public sector cooperation will disappear for good.
We have also witnessed in the last few weeks yet another example of this in the form of the strategic alliance between Durham and Tees Trust and Interserve (Yes, the very same Interserve which tries to provide estates and facilities management services in probation and refused to recognise UNISON for the purposes of collective bargaining on the Home Office FM contract) This new strategic alliance is seeking to run 3 prisons in different geographical locations including as far south as Warwickshire. Again they will be competing against the public sector prisons and possibly other probation Trusts. It is hard to see how anyone gains from this instability and chaos.
UNISON registers ViSOR vetting concerns
UNISON has registered its concerns with both NOMS and probation employers regarding a possible escalation in the number of staff members required to receive clearance to operate ViSOR (Violent and Sex Offender Register). UNISON understands that ViSOR has been subject to a security review which enhanced its classification. This means that full users have to have a level 3 clearance which is very intrusive and delves into aspects of your personal life which are not relevant to anyone’s work within probation. Examples of this include bank details, credit records and political affiliations. At present ViSOR has operated on the basis that only a limited number of users were required and, as such, was easy to manage through volunteers and dedicated ViSOR administrators.
The ViSOR system is owned by the National Police Improvement Agency and, as such, probation has little influence over the requirements necessary to use it. However, as long as each Trust had only a few operators, few if any vetting’s problems arose. What has added to the concerns of UNISON is that greater use of the ViSOR system is being pushed by NOMS, meaning many more staff would be required to pass the vetting. The impact of this would mean many more staff having to give private details to a 3rd party which has not been a requirement previously, nor relevant to the members of staff’s main occupation.
In fact all new starters may be required to pass the vetting before securing employment, which would be a significant change in practice and could put off potential applicants. Another big concern is that those who fail the ViSOR vetting need clear guidance on how to appeal and to get the full reasons why. UNISON is unhappy that a Trust’s HR department might get this sensitive information when it is unrelated to the primary employment.
UNISON and Napo are asking the employers to work with the trade unions to ensure a protocol is agreed in how these employment-related issues, linked to VISOR, are dealt with. If you have any VISOR related issues it is important that you make UNISON aware. Please contact email@example.com
Police and Justice Conference
This year’s UNISON Police and Justice Conference takes place in Cardiff from 11 to 13 October. Last year’s conference in Chester was a big success and enjoyed by probation delegates. We want this year’s conference to be both bigger and better. We are asking members to consider bringing forward probation motions to their local branches and get them submitted in time. We are also asking that all branches with probation members in them ensure they send the required delegation. This will deliver geographical spread and make for good representation.
Deadline for submission of motions Thursday, 14 June
Deadline for submission of delegates Wednesday, 1 August