I spoke with Michael Gove the new Secretary of State for Justice shortly after his appointment. I must say that he was extremely polite and personable and said that he welcomed engagement with us and was massively impressed by the work that our members carry out.
Expected pleasantries aside he was keen to hear what our top issues are at the moment and listened intently as I covered:
- The engagement agenda and how this ought to be better than we managed with his predecessor; and how we need to stay in touch regularly so that he is sighted on key issues
- Our major concerns post TR around the problems identified by our own intelligence and the recent report from HMIP
- The morale of staff and the concerns we have around training provision and professional standards
- Our ongoing problems with Sodexo and the ongoing discussions and difficulties around EVR, the staff transfer agreement and their huge job cuts agenda.
- The need to address long term pay problems in 2015 and beyond and our current discussions with ACAS about pay and a revised NNC bargaining machinery.
- Withdrawal of Check-Off, and how this is costing us a considerable sum of money and problems exacerbated by the performance of Shared Services.
Finally, he made an offer to Napo to jointly visit areas in Probation and the FCS where he could find what he described as ‘best practice’. This is something for us to carefully consider as an opportunity, but not at the expense of highlighting the problems faced by the majority of our members.
All in all I felt it to be a useful initial exchange and he said that he looked forward to meeting with the unions very soon.