Probation service privatisation fuels total confusion

UNISON, the UK’s largest union today hit out at the £450m probation privatisation package announced by Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, calling it “ill prepared” and likely to result in long-term damage to the service.

The union is stressing the total confusion among probation staff as to how the Service is going to be split up to facilitate privatisation. Key documents are still being withheld from staff, despite the announcement the announcement today of a 28 day consultation period.

UNISON is warning that unless members are truly listened to during the consultation, industrial action may be on the cards. The union could move into industrial action as soon as next month if talks fail.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“The break-up and privatisation of the probation service is a dangerous recipe for disaster. Probation Trusts are being left today with the impossible task of talking their staff through a process that they are not yet privy to.

“UNISON will consult with our Probation members on the staffing split during the consultation period in good faith, but the Justice Secretary has breached his own consultation timetable by not making key documents available at the start of the process.

“It also remains to be seen whether the Justice Secretary will listen to the voices of probation staff during the consultation period. UNISON members have already signalled that they are prepared to take action if necessary to defend vital jobs which protect community safety. In July, UNISON conducted a survey of Probation members that showed that 99% were opposed to the Government’s probation privatisation and that 85% were prepared to take industrial action to defend jobs, pay and conditions if these were not properly protected by the Government.