Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Support the Probation Officers' strike!
At the last meeting of UNISON's National Executive Council (NEC) (a report of which here is now somewhat overdue) our General Secretary, Dave Prentis, made a particular point of mentioning UNISON's firm opposition to the plans of the Coalition Government for the privatisation of the Probation service.
Today, our sister union, the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) launch a 24 hour strike at noon in opposition to plans which threaten public safety as much as the rights and conditions of the workforce (https://www.napo.org.uk/about/news/news.cfm/newsid/310).
UNISON members are not being called out as UNISON has yet to declare a trade dispute, but when UNISON members in probation were surveyed in the summer 99% opposed the Government plans and 85% indicated a willingness to take industrial action.
NAPO's action clearly demonstrates the possibility of lawful action in these circumstances, and the strike will most certainly focus further attention on this most outrageous of privatisations.
I'm not privy to the details of the negotiations which are underway to try to protect the terms and conditions of probation service staff, nor therefore to the decisionmaking process which has led to our not yet having declared a trade dispute. However, I hope that if NAPO are forced to take further action, UNISON is able to offer our members the opportunity to act alongside them.
One thing we can all do is sign the e-petition against the Government's privatisation plans (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44403).
NAPO are taking only their fourth national industrial action in over a century of existence, in response to a vital threat to the very existence of probation as a service for the public, rather than a money-making scheme for private profiteers.