Further strike action over Probation privatisation announced at Napo SGM in Birmingham
At Napo’s Special General Meeting, held in Birmingham Town Hall, today General Secretary Ian Lawrence announced further strike action across 31st March and 1st April against plans to privatise 70% of the services work.
Making the announcement Ian told attendees: ‘The Coalition’s plans to sell off the management of offenders to private providers so that they can make a profit from the justice system is a recklessly dangerous social experiment that presents massive risks to the safety of communities.’
When: 12.00 pm on Monday 31 March until 11.59 pm on Tuesday 1 April
See the NAPO website for more information: http://www.napo.org.uk
Tom Rendon, National Chair of NAPO explains why he is striking:
Almost every day that I get up and go to work represents another day of us being bullied by the Secretary of State for Justice. It feels personal. Like all of you, I’m sick of being told that our work isn’t good enough and that the Civil Service or private sector can do it better despite the evidence. I have over 30 years of work ahead of me and I want this to be in a job that matters, a job that is well regarded, properly paid and meaningful. The government is putting all that at risk. What legitimacy do they have to do this? None. Splitting up the Probation Service is dangerous and legally dubious. It is being done in the absence of any scrutiny and it has no credible advocates.
As a main grade Probation Officer, paid in the middle bit of Band 4, the strike will create a dent in my finances but I’m determined to manage it because I think it is a price worth paying to protect our future. Some members will earn more, some will earn less. We don’t all have the same personal circumstances so I’m glad there is a hardship fund to offer some assistance to those disproportionately affected.
Striking is tricky in our job but there’s no way around that. Does that mean I shouldn’t bother? No. Withdrawing our labour is a fundamental right and, in the present climate, it’s a responsibility. It is quite simply the strongest signal we can send to the government. Ministers are still running around saying that the unions have agreed to privatisation- what better way to loudly refute that rubbish than by robust strike action. The Ministry of Justice would be delighted with a low turn-out and that makes me feel more determined to get out there. Clients I have spoken to about privatisation (they asked me and I didn’t embellish) were visibly horrified about someone making a profit out of them.
After some uncertainty I was eventually assigned to the NPS. I don’t want to work in it and still attended my grievance hearing (not that the CRC would be any better). Concerns about the CRCs are well documented but what about life in the NPS? Line management support will be threadbare- 1 SPO per two buildings in some areas. Where’s the support in dealing with high risk case work? How do I make risk judgments on CRC cases I have never supervised? How many times will I face difficulty in front of the Parole Board accounting for those cases? The command and control approach of the prison dominated NOMS threatens to make probation work unrecognisable as Probation Instructions will dictate every move.
I’m striking because I’m part of a union. As an individual, the power I have to stand up to a bullying government is minimal. When I stand together with thousands of colleagues, we can challenge and win.