One service, pay scale and bargaining structure

Conference calls for return to national bargaining in reunited probation service

Police and justice delegates called for the return of national bargaining, and the abolition of the lowest pay grade, when probation services are reintegrated as a public service next year.

Recognising the important role played by national collective bargaining for police staff in England and Wales, for Police Scotland and for CAFCASS – the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – the UNISON service group conference in Southport declared it “essential that national collective bargaining is re-established for the Probation Service in England and Wales”.

The arrangements give UNISON members across the service group a voice in national negotiations, said Maureen le Marinel, speaking for the service group executive.

But in probation, she said, pay, terms and conditions, including pensions, differ for members employed by different private community rehabilitation companies in England and Wales, and between them the National Probation Service.

“I could say it’s a mess,” she told conference. “But it’s more than that, it’s a disgrace.”

Conference also called for the National Probation Service to abolish Band 1 of the pay scale, as the “vast majority” of the current private companies running managing offender rehabilitation have done.

The band would pay staff less than the minimum wage, conference noted. Sheffield speaker Cath Cramm (pictured above), who moved the successful call, pointed out that her employer didn’t employ anyone on Band 1, nor did the previous probation trust.

“So why is it a problem?“ she asked. “Because the National Probation Service employs its receptionists on Band 1.”

And while it did increase the pay of some of those to meet its legal obligation to pay the minimum wage, it only did this for staff over 25, as Lee Middlemass of the service group executive pointed out.

And affected staff transferred to the NPS as the service is reunited could lose up to £3,000 a year – a 20% pay cut, Ms Cramm added.

And the issue is important: colleagues in Wales could be transferred by Christmas, with staff in England following in 18 months.