Today, your pay award is 193 days late.
In my last briefing I updated you that we had been given appropriate assurances that your pay award had been agreed and would be paid in February. On that basis, the Agency were informed that as a gesture of good faith, the NCOA would suspend its planned action by members through the withdrawal of goodwill.
I did though include the following warning to you,
‘However, the timescales are extremely tight and there remains an uncomfortable reliance on Treasury and other government officials to now make this happen - their track record thus far does not inspire me with much confidence’.
Yesterday afternoon, NCOA Chair Nick Edwards and I met with Agency representatives expecting to hear that everything was still on track for the 22/23 pay award finally hitting your bank accounts in two weeks time. I’m sorry to say, rather predictably, that your pay award has in fact not even cleared the relevant governance process in what is known as the ‘write round’ - where various government departments effectively agree the NCA pay package.
This is the penultimate hurdle prior to presentation through parliament - the ‘normal’ trigger for your pay award to ‘Go Live’. Yesterday was a pivotal date given the fact that parliament goes into recess next week and does not reconvene until the 20th February - barely 4 working days before your salary is paid on the 24th February. We have also clarified with the Agency that due to the mechanics of triggering salary payments, Wednesday the 22nd February marks a line in the sand which simply cannot be changed.
The collapsing timeframe suggests a pay award paid in February is now in real jeopardy if there continues to be an inflexible reliance on triggering the NCA pay award through a parliamentary statement (i.e. at the dispatch box). Whilst this is the ‘normal’ process, we highlighted an alternative process previously undertaken to secure your pay award.
In 2019, the publication of the NCARRB report was delayed into the parliamentary summer recess. As a consequence, a ministerial write round commenced on Monday 5th August and concluded on Wednesday 7th August. The NCARRB report was then published the following day, through the format of a formal letter from the Home Secretary to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee. This sets a clear precedent that not only can the NCARRB report be published whilst parliament is in recess, but also that this can be achieved, through a relatively short and simple process.
This is easily achievable before both the ‘cut off’ date of 22nd February, but also ahead of parliament next sitting on 20th February. Publication of the NCARRB report at the earliest opportunity must be the number one priority for all parties concerned in the NCA pay process.
Having presented this alternative routing process to the Agency, there remains an uncomfortable reliance on HM Government playing their part. We have therefore given the Agency the following ultimatum,
‘Unless the NCOA receives unequivocal evidence by 13:00hrs on Friday 10th February 2023 that HM Government have agreed to a pay award for all our members in line with the NCARRB recommendations, and in time for payments to be made in February, we will send out further NCOA member communications to support our members in their withdrawal of goodwill from Monday 13th February 2023’.
We are particularly disappointed by the Government’s apparent continued lack of urgency in applying the NCA pay award, particularly with yesterday’s news that it had averted industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union in a dispute which post-dated the NCA 2022/23 pay award fiasco.
Whilst we commend the FBU for securing this deal for members, it proves to us that there has simply been no will at government level to resolve the pay dispute of NCA staff given that our own pay dispute has been lingering for 6 months.
It is also abundantly clear that industrial action is a powerful tool in employer/employee relations - when all attempts to resolve matters through negotiation and consultation have failed. It is therefore a painful reality for us all at this time that we are stymied by legislation which prevents us from taking industrial action.
Given that the Agency has been unable to provide us with the unequivocal guarantee we sought on your behalf, the time has now come for you to demonstrate to the Government in particular, how much the UK’s premier law enforcement Agency relies on goodwill to make it function effectively. More importantly though, to send a clear message of how frustrated, angry, and disappointed you are that in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis you have not received the pay award you were entitled to receive 6 months ago.
On Monday the 13th February we would ask that all NCOA members deliver their contractual obligations around working hours, overtime (there is an expectation that NCA officers may from time to time be required to work additional hours for enhanced pay) on-call (for applicable grades and those who joined the Agency after 2019) and anything else you ‘must’ deliver as an Agency employee or risk sanctions. But, that’s it, nothing more, nothing less.
As a reminder, you are paid to work 37/40hrs per week with a half-hour lunch break and overtime when necessary. You are not paid to ‘make the job work’ by turning up early, working in your own time, travelling to locations which are not your normal place of work (unless the travelling expenses and additional time are picked up by the employer - at enhanced rates as necessary).
So, until we receive an unequivocal guarantee that you will receive your backdated pay award on the 24th February please,
- Turn up punctually for work on Monday and thereafter.
- Make sure you take your lunch break - away from your desk.
- Secure approval for enhanced remuneration for additional hours you may be required to work. If this is refused, pack your things up and go home.
- Finish punctually.
- Leave all NCA equipment, including laptops, and NCA phones safely secured in a locked drawer or cabinet until you are back at work the following day.
Given the fact that the situation is now fast evolving there may be a late development which means this highly regrettable action can be suspended which we are unable to communicate to via email out of hours (i.e., later today or over the weekend). Therefore, please continue to check the website at www.ncoa.org.uk for the latest news which we commit to updating over the weekend as necessary.
Thank you for your support at this time and please don’t rely on others to make the difference - we’re in this together, this action will have an effect.
By the way, the pay award for MP’s was announced yesterday, the amount isn’t important.
Have a great weekend and see you Monday 9am …… sharp.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary