Unacceptable Pay Award Delay Triggers Member Action Ballot
I am sorry to report that there is still no white smoke on an Agency 2022 pay award, signaling a grim festive period for most, especially when considering the ever-increasing food and heating bills and headline inflation now at a 40 year high.
Whilst some are blaming powers beyond the control of the Agency, the current pay award scenario has not played out beyond the NCA. The almost annual delays in at least some part of the pay process, tends to suggest that the NCA must accept some responsibility.
As a Trade Union with our footprint almost entirely within the law enforcement world, we know full well that the NCA relies on a dedicated workforce who are committed to giving much as an employee – often with very little in return, beyond contractual obligations from their employer. For example, we are regularly notified of inflexibility across some of the Directorates with regards to fair access to overtime. Disturbingly, this is often paired inappropriately (and in conflict with your employment contract), with an insistence on individuals working for flexi-time or TOIL by default – or worse still, no recompense at all.
We are also concerned that many of you are being taken for granted, either by the Agency or at Home Office or HM Treasury levels, given that the pay award still hangs in the balance.
In 2019, the NCOA actioned a ‘Pay to Stay’ campaign to ensure that all members were aware of two basic principles. The first being that when a manager seeks additional working hours from one of our members, the choice to do so rests with the individual, with paid overtime being the default position - unless the member dictates otherwise. Secondly, that no Directorate or workplace is exempt from paying overtime in line with the Agency’s Managing Working Time operating procedures (HR02 OP01).
If ever there was a time to increase our members’ understanding of this policy and provide them with back up and protection when they need it – this is it, as you all navigate through a cost-of-living crisis in the absence of a much-needed pay award.
To assist, we have been pushing the Agency on this issue for the past few months and they formally concur with our assertions on overtime being applicable across the Agency – so stand firm and we will support you where necessary, in claiming payment for any pre-authorised additional hours worked – if that’s what you want.
In 2013, the Crime and Courts Act was introduced in the absence of a no strike agreement across the entire workforce. The Act delivered a pay mechanism for the those with delegated powers – the NCARRB, and Section 13 made it unlawful for those with delegated operational powers to take strike action. For those of you who do not have operational powers, there are no restrictions which prevent you taking industrial action.
Interestingly, and not what was envisaged at the time when the legislation came into force, in 2022, only 36% of the Agency workforce actually have operational powers, which means that there are no restrictions for 64% of the current workforce.
At this time, we know that feelings are running high, ranging from disappointment to frustration and more latterly, anger. We have therefore decided to run a consultative ballot which recognises the current pay chaos and the legal restrictions placed on some of our members. To be clear, this ballot has no legal basis, and whilst it does not commit us to any particular course of action, it does provide us with the strength of feeling from all our members at this time.
The NCOA is not directing any of you to answer in a particular way, we would just like you to be honest about how you feel currently and what you would be willing to do to demonstrate any strength of feeling you may have. This will help us to decide what we might do next to use our significant membership to influence matters further.
From 10am today, (Monday the 21st November) we will be opening our consultative member action ballot which will close on the 5th December at 4pm, at which point we will report our findings to you and then the employer.
To take part in the survey, use this link - www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9GPKF9V
In the meantime, here at the NCOA we sincerely hope that a meaningful 2022 pay award will be delivered in time for Christmas and that we can all focus on time away from the workplace and looking ahead to 2023 and the new challenges that will no doubt bring.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary