Sadly predictable, but at a time when pay review body recommendations have been made public, (and now ratified) the trigger for the NCA pay process (the remit letter) has not even surfaced. The chances of a pay award for August, or even by Christmas, is now unlikely. There remains a remote possibility that a previously unidentified rabbit could be pulled out of the bag which could bring an award to life sooner than we expect - but that seems implausible given the timing.
Next Thursday, Parliament moves into recess which means the 20th July is a pivotal date by which the NCA Pay Remit Letter must be on the table and visible to all. Without it, the pay process for 2023/24 pay round is unlikely to commence until Parliament re-convenes on the 4th September. The repercussions are clear.
If the remit letter has not been made public by the 20th July then I will be writing to the Director General to seek an urgent meeting on the fate of your August 2023 pay award. From that point onward, the NCOA intend to canvass all members for their views and move forward as necessary to bring about an early resolution.
Given the recommendations for Police officers (they will receive payments in September as planned), our bare minimum expectation is that NCOA members will receive a 7% consolidated award in addition to the £1500 cost of living payment tantalisingly offered and then stalled/withdrawn by the DG a month ago. Critically though, given the delay in the release of the remit letter there is a real danger that the 2023 award will be almost a year late by the time it is seen in pay packets - the knock-on effect could see a year where a pay award is missed.
The recent non-consolidated (non-pensionable) £1500 cost-of-living payment was presented as a payment to be made to you all in August (when you would normally see your annual pay uplifts), To see the offer then swiftly withdrawn was gut wrenching for many already struggling with their finances - we know, you told us! This additional factor adds further misery to the overarching pay debacle linked to being an employee at Grade 6-1 within the National Crime Agency.
We remain unconvinced that the Agency’s recently announced strategy of presenting a separate £1500 cost of living award pay case via the NCARRB has much chance of success. Whilst happy to be proven wrong, it is important to remind ourselves that the legal remit for the NCARRB is to make recommendations for consolidated pay awards for powered NCA officers only.
On this occasion, whilst they have organisationally been unable to offer any respite from the lengthy cost-of-living crisis (a gift card for those who can ‘evidence’ a good performance at work, can never be considered a real response to a cost-of-living crisis) - I’m afraid the Director General appears to be clutching at straws (we have our fingers crossed for him).
I accept that recent actions by the current Government seem to suggest anything could happen even though it really shouldn’t - but how does the NCARRB suddenly secure the authority to make recommendations beyond their reach? If there is any doubt amongst our members, the NCOA position is quite clear, on this occasion, we don’t care what mechanism is deployed to secure this vital payment - just pay the full amount, to everyone, now!
Separate but linked to the absence of any traction with the 2023/4 pay award is the continuing request for NCA officers to support Border Force as they struggle to manage with the impact of their own industrial action on pay.
Given the Agency’s own issues in securing a pay award, I’m pretty sure it is clear to everyone about the value attached to an individual’s ability to undertake industrial action. Currently, Border Force employees are striking to introduce leverage and secure a decent pay award during the cost-of-living crisis.
NCA Officers cannot (in most cases) go on strike and consequently, are not being prioritised by the Government despite wholesale and in some cases, successful industrial action elsewhere. Therefore, I would remind you that we believe it is not in your interests to support Agency requests to backfill at Border Force. Those who do, are not only undermining the Border Force Action, they are also undermining our own credibility in securing a meaningful pay award this year. i.e., any future withdrawal of goodwill which may be supported by members in due course.
In the second year of a very real cost-of-living crisis, against a backdrop of stubborn inflation and rising mortgage costs, the requirement for a speedy and significant pay award for NCA officers cannot be downplayed. We hope you understand and react firmly when the time is right and we commit to updating you as matters develop and become clearer.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary