On Tuesday evening myself and National Officer Steve Bond held a formal and constructive pay meeting with Claire Smith, NCA Director General Capabilities and DDHR Naomi Amor, to resolve the pay dispute.
At that meeting, we made it very clear that it is wholly unacceptable for our members to have to wait 6 months for their annual pay award. We also made it clear that in the absence of any positive shift in position from the relevant HM Govt Departments, NCOA members would withdraw goodwill next week as planned.
Our focus then moved to the scheduled pay meeting which took place yesterday morning - a meeting which we considered would probably represent the last opportunity for the Agency to deliver some good news on pay and halt the need to act next week. We left that meeting disappointed.
Having been asked if we could wait a little longer before providing further guidance to you on any withdrawal of goodwill next week (we have already waited 179 days) - we were unambiguous in our response,
Unless the NCOA receives unequivocal evidence in the next 24hrs 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 30th January 2023.
Two hours after that tense meeting, we were updated that approval had been given at Treasury level and the pay award had been given the green light to move through the remaining processes to get your pay award into the hands of the people who need it - our members.
Whilst this is of course positive news, you are now merely going to receive an award which you should have been paid in August last year. You still don’t have any idea what that award looks like and won’t do, until the formal publication of the NCARRB report following an announcement in parliament - if and when a time slot presents itself.
Once this happens, you will all get to see what the fight has been about and what comments the Government finally has to say about it. Be warned - the award may still not match your expectations. For example, interest rates relied upon at the time the report was prepared last year, bear little resemblance to where they have risen since.
The update we received yesterday, followed by a message from the Agency to you all this morning, has now broken the pay deadlock and we have every confidence that concerted efforts are being made internally to deliver your backdated pay award on the 25th February. 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.
The Agency’s pay news still falls short of the unequivocal guarantees we are seeking on your behalf. Given the remaining obstacles which could still hinder or prevent an award hitting your bank accounts in February, I am firmly of the opinion that it is right to postpone the withdrawal of goodwill planned for Monday next week. However, if it becomes clear in the next week or so that your award will be delayed until March, then we will communicate further on next steps and reinstating the withdrawal of goodwill as necessary.
Please do not underestimate the impact of your threat to withdraw goodwill which had been communicated at the highest levels in Treasury and the Home office. It is this act which undoubtedly caused some serious reflection, a thaw in the process and the very sudden, begrudging acceptance of your delayed pay award.
Thank you for your patience. The NCOA will continue to work hard on your behalf over the next few weeks to see your award paid as soon as possible.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary