POA Circulars

29 | 01.04.2015

MEETING WITH SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE WEDNESDAY, 25th MARCH 2015

It would appear there is confusion with regards to what POA Circular 27/2015 means and if any grade particularly Band 2 membership have been excluded from any agreement.

The fourteenth report on England and Wales 2015 from the Prison Service Pay Review Body was accepted in full by the Coalition Government which meant that 80 per cent of our members were excluded from a pay rise for 2015/2016. Circular 27/2015 clearly states that the Secretary of State would not re–visit the outcome of the pay review body. We have no other mechanism to resolve pay issues.

The NEC had raised concerns regarding the Health and Safety of our members after the Justice Committee had published their year long evidence based report. It concluded that our prisons were a less safe place for staff and prisoners. We therefore gave NOMS 28 days to produce risk assessments and safe systems of work.

SECTION 3 OF THE AGREEMENT: NOMS agreed under this section in the agreement to free up branch officials to complete Regime Management Plans and to conduct Health and Safety Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of work. The Executive welcome this section.

SECTION 4 OF THE AGREEMENT: For the first time in many years there is an agreement for collective bargaining for pay and payment plus for all our members to seek agreement with a view to producing joint evidence to the Prison Service pay review body. The Executive also welcome this as we have no confidence at all in the pay review body as they continually ignore year on year pay concerns of our membership. This is an opportunity to side line that review body and attempt to negotiate with the employer. Additionally there is a commitment to continue joint work in relation to the pensionable age for prison officers with the aim of producing a business case for consideration by the relevant Government departments. I am sure the membership welcomes Section 3 and 4 as the Executive do.

SECTION 1 OF THE AGREEMENT: Operational Staff Band 3 to 5 are receiving a one off bonus retention payment. This is not a pay rise. Pay rises are determined by the pay review body and they determined only our members in Fair and Sustainable would receive a 1.8 per cent pay rise along with incremental rises. Everyone else was getting nothing.

The POA through negotiation with NOMS persuaded them to make a payment outside of the review body with a view to commence negotiations and reaching agreement for 2016/17 and beyond through collective bargaining. This is our attempt to side line the disgraceful pay review body who have continually failed our members.

In respect of Band 2 OSGs they have not been ignored nor excluded from the agreement or indeed excluded from a retention payment after the pay review body treated them appallingly. NOMS did not have the data in respect of the 4750 OSGs as to who would gain by opting into Fair and Sustainable and who would not. It was initially suggested that all OSGs would benefit from opting in but the POA NEC pointed out that some who had opted in were suffering an abatement of leave (ie) their leave was calculated on a 37 hour week and not a 39 hour week thus leaving them with a £400 deficit on the year. NOMS stated this was an error and would be rectified as soon as possible. Further we have now ascertained that approximately 1,000 OSGs would not gain by opting in as they would suffer a detriment to their pensions and locality pay if they do so. Therefore OSGs were not ignored or excluded. The Executive wanted to get it right for them and be sure of our facts as I am sure the employer wanted to be sure. We will now go back to NOMS with what we believe the true picture is to seek a retention payment for our members in Band 2s where a detriment is demonstrated and which will be comparable with Band 3,4, and 5. I repeat though this is not a pay rise these are payments outside the pay review body.

At no stage did our Circular 27/2015 indicate that the payment of a one off retention bonus was adequate, perfect or fair. The NEC under Section 4 of the agreement will be putting forward our arguments for consolidated pay rises which are pensionable for 2016/17.

In relation to SECTION 2 NATIONAL PAYMENT PLUS BONUS SCHEME: The pay review body ignored our submission that the payment plus rate should be £30 per hour nationally. The additional £2.50 per hour nationally is set out in the agreement. The reason that the £2.50 was not simply added to the £17 is because the pay review body recommendations cannot be tampered with as the recommendations had been accepted in full by Government. Nobody need tie themselves into a contract as it is voluntary. Very simply put it is a voluntary contract as is payment plus. If you don’t want it you don’t have to have it but if members want the additional £2.50 the terms are set out in the agreement.

It would appear to the Executive that many branches and members thought the pay review body recommendations were being re-negotiated this simply wasn’t the case. This was the NEC attempting to make our prisons safe through Health and Safety risk assessments and safe systems of work after a devastating Justice Committee report. We achieved that and in addition achieved gains for collective bargaining on future pay, along with commitments on pension age.

The payments that have been agreed in Section 1 and 2 are as far as we are concerned an improvement as an interim solution until collective bargaining commences. As I write this circular NOMS have committed to meet our team on the issue of OSGs next week.

We do recognise this agreement may not be universally welcomed and as our annual conference is commencing in May 2015 there will be an opportunity for delegates to raise the issue and determine future direction. The NEC were not prepared to reject new money outside the pay review body recommendations nor other elements of the agreement whilst Parliament was dissolved. However, if Conference the ruling body wish to reject the agreement on your behalf then we can inform the employer not to put the payments into the May 2015 pay run. That would also mean the elements of Section 3 and 4 along with pensions would be rejected as well.

Please bring this to the attention of your members.
 

Yours sincerely 

 


PJ McPARLIN  
National Chairman 
 

Yours sincerely

 

STEVE GILLAN
General Secretary