The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) meets for the union’s annual congress in Torquay this weekend.
A very clear message needs to come from that conference. Bold action is required to put pressure on the union leadership to protect staff and their conditions of employment.
Reports from a number of probation areas suggest that there is a dramatic increase in disciplinary action and suspensions of staff. These are being used to offload staff without paying redundancy payments.
An employee of Hertfordshire probation area told Socialist Worker that this has been happening to established members of staff since the area received a green light for trust status. This gives the areas more control over their budget.
The area is said to have to make up to 54 redundancies by April 2010. Management is increasingly using disciplinary procedures to dismiss staff. This means hardworking employees are missing out on redundancy payments.
Another former member of staff stated that after 11 years of service he was dismissed for a “minor misdemeanour” that would previously have resulted in a verbal warning. He said his hearing was “more like a kangaroo court”.
Staff will need to be more vigilant and willing to use the process of appeal and employment tribunals against management’s plans.
Such cuts in the service have come about after the government imposed 20 percent reductions to the budget.
Area chiefs are placing anxieties and demands on already under-appreciated and overworked staff.