As you will be aware the NCOA pay team spent Tuesday and Wednesday locked in formal negotiations with the employer in order to;
A) Gain a clear understanding of the outcome of the NCARRB process and proposed pay reform changes.
B) Reach a position where possible, on any T&C changes that the Agency seeks to link contractually to any ratified financial terms on offer.
Full details of the Pay offer itself can now be found on the NCA Intranet. It is important to understand that the NCOA has no ability to renegotiate the terms of the Pay offer which is set by the Home Office following NCARRB recommendations.
Although not within the remit of the NCARRB, the Agency originally sought to introduce contractual changes but, only to officers who elect to move on to Spot Rates. They were;
1. Move from 37 to a 40hr week.
2. Enhanced Flexibility.
3. Shift to modernised terms.
4. Binding Training costs tie-in.
- 1. Transition from 37 to 40hr week.
The employer argued that the new pay proposals were to be introduced in recognition that our closest workforce comparator was the Police Service. Given that Police officers work a 40hr week the case was very simple, if they move their pay closer to Police scales, then NCA officers must work a 40hr week. Details of this proposal were referred to in the Agency NCARRB submission document.
The NCOA position was also simple but very clear;
The NCA wanted to introduce Pay reform recognising the flaws in the current system and, that our officers are grossly underpaid when looking at the number one comparator group. Recognising officers are underpaid, why do you need to make them work longer hours in order to access greater levels of pay?
Police officers work a 40hr week but with paid, 45 minute lunch breaks. NCA officers forced to work a 40 hr work would therefore;
i) End up working longer hours than their Police counterparts for less money.
ii) In real terms they would be working 6.25% more hours than NCA colleagues.
iii) On current calculations this should be reflected in an increase to annual leave entitlement of between 1.6 and 1.9 days. Although of course this is not part of the offer.
iv) Even with the introduction of Spot Rates, any Police Officer, (PIP1 or PIP2) with seven years’ service or more, would still be earning at least £4k to £5k more than the most highly paid G5 Agency Officers.
NCOA also highlighted the very recent combined Police Federation Police Superintendents Association Police Pay Review Body submission (5th Feb). This evidences the need for an increase of 3.4% to all Police pay scales.
Unfortunately, the Agency took a position that it was unable to negotiate in any way on this issue, despite strong arguments from the NCOA and the other Trade Unions.
Although the term was referred to within the Agency’s NCARRB submission document, there was simply no detail on what it actually means. We are aware that over the past few weeks the Agency has, without our involvement, been shaping what exactly this should look like.
In essence the Agency sought to contractually bind a group of officers to an operational response which may have resulted in them working at another location for up to 3 months per year.
We challenged the Agency that this group would end up being selected to form a sub group within the Spot Rate group due to their clearly defined ‘front line skills’. (The majority of staff within the Spot rate group would not actually have the skill set required to provide any surge response which penalised this sub group without additional reward).
The NCOA have consistently told the Agency that the perceived need to contractually tie in enhanced flexibility was not because of an unwilling or inflexible workforce. The real problem lies in the real lack of staffing resources in key business areas, clearly evidenced by the failure of the Southern Investigations trial.
We also highlighted existing contract definitions and polices which were already in place that enables managers to make more effective use of staff without forcing in draconian measures. The use of ‘on call’ payments was highlighted as being under-utilised and largely ignored in some areas of the business.
The NCOA made strong representations with regards to alienating female officers, particularly those with child care responsibilities from the Operations arena, were this to be introduced. It would be unwise to further disrupt the gender balance already heavily weighted towards middle-aged males. Personal member pleas forwarded to the NCOA over the past two weeks and presented in the debate, made a compelling case to resist the implementation of this unnecessary and disproportionate element.
NCOA also made comment on the Agency’s inability to deploy its resources efficiently citing evidence of officers travelling from the South coast to Scotland to carry out interviews, and teams investigating CSE cases several hours away from their office, at locations much closer to other operational NCA sites.
The Agency eventually agreed to remove Enhanced Flexibility from its proposal. In turn, the NCOA and the other unions committed to taking part in a review of current Operational response and working practices in the coming months. Although the terms of reference have not yet been set, this is likely to include all aspects of how, why and when NCA work is carried out both within offices and elsewhere.
3. Shift to modernised Civil Service Terms
Since Spring of 2014, any officer who joined the NCA, or promoted within the NCA, has moved on to Modernised Civil Service Terms. At the time of writing this briefing (09.02.18), the Agency has informed the NCOA that this element of pay reform contractual change has now been removed.
4. Binding Training costs tie-in.
The Agency sought to contractually bind officers who benefit from significant financial investment from the Agency, to enable them to obtain qualifications and skills linked to their role.
We see this as reasonable having witnessed for ourselves several highly trained NCA officers leave the Agency to pursue greater rewards, with an NCA financed and recently obtained qualification, in their back pocket. (Having examined existing policy and contracts we are unconvinced that there is any requirement to make further changes to the contracts of officers moving across to Spot Rates. The Agency therefore agreed that they are now content to rely on existing provisions and will not make further contractual changes or additions).
Spot Rate Protections
During the negotiations NCOA were also able to reach agreement on protection measures to be put in place for officers who may in the future, and through no fault of their own, find themselves moved from any Spot Rate structure - back to the ‘standard’ NCA pay scales.
Having concluded negotiations, we are content that we were able to secure the very best we could in relation to contractual changes which may be imposed on any officer moving to the Spot Rate pay scales. However, as your union we have not made any commitment to the Agency that our members accept the revised terms on offer which will be balloted on over the next two weeks.
The Agency cannot simply impose these changes unilaterally, and wishes each of its three recognised Trade Unions to permit a wholesale acceptance of the deal on the table through a Collective Agreement.
If each Union says ‘Yes’, every single officer of the NCA (union member or not) will be considered to have accepted the revised offer.
If any single Union fails to agree, a Collective Agreement cannot be reached and the Agency will then have to consider what it can do next to implement contractual changes - to reiterate, it cannot impose contractual changes.
As an independent and democratic Trade Union, NCOA will be balloting each of its members - irrespective of whether or not they are to be affected by the proposed changes. Given a potential phased approached to pay reform (as signalled by the Agency) it is important that you each consider and vote on a personal basis but, recognise that we may be asking these questions or similar questions of you in the future, when you may be more personally affected by change.
The NCOA Ballot will run from Monday 12th February 2018 to Friday 23rd February 2018. Further details will be sent to your NCOA held email address on 12th February, to include how you can take part at this important time.