Unfortunately progress may appear painfully slow but this does not mean there is any lack of desire or ambition to deliver Pay Reform within the Agency. In a period of sustained austerity this was never going to be easy, and guess what, it most definitely hasn’t been easy!
The document currently being worked on is very different from where we started, which to a degree explains why this has taken so long. Much of the changes are as a result of continued advice and guidance from the Home office who we are pleased to report are now supportive and encouraging but also extremely cautious. We know that the Home office now has a greater understanding of your unique Law Enforcement role in a Civil Service World, following our letter last month.
It is very important for everyone to understand that Reform means 'Reform' - it does not mean that the Agency merely want to introduce a very simple uplift to its existing pay scales. What it is saying is that the current Pay structure is not fit for purpose, causes conflict amongst staff and hampers both recruitment and retention. Any successful pay reform case will see something very different from a blanket uplift of 'X' % to existing scales and therefore we think it is inconceivable that meaningful changes can be delivered within a 1% pay cap.
This is a unique opportunity to achieve significant changes to the NCA pay structure and it has to be compelling, evidence based and affordable. The 1% Public Sector workers pay cap has been set by Treasury and therefore there will only be one chance to secure their support. There is no quick route to success but there must be a focussed one, with broad support for an evidence backed case - which is what we are working towards.
We welcome Steve Corkerton's latest blog and hope that this signals a period of increased communication with NCA staff regarding the Pay Reform work that is being carried out. We have been asking for this for a very long time whilst the embargo is in place. This has become more important given the level of information which has now 'leaked out' to all grades and across many parts of the Agency.
Whilst we are barred from discussing the detail of the current paper it is wholly appropriate for us to comment on some of the 'misinformation' reported back to us. The NCOA are involved in almost weekly meetings with the employer and have seen nothing which indicates any organisational intention to seek approval for:
- Reduction of existing overtime rates.
- Implementation of AHW.
- Reduction in pay.
The rough timetable outlined within Steve's blog relies on events moving seamlessly over the forthcoming months. Purdah does not assist this progress as there will be no ministerial decisions made for quite some time. Then to compound matters, Parliament will have its summer recess which again will block and slow down sign off at the appropriate level.
There also remains a requirement to cement any approved proposals through the NCARRB who were set to review submissions several months ago. Given the additional and rather time consuming engagement with the Home Office and Treasury, the NCARRB process has been officially 'suspended' for this current round.
Being totally realistic, we doubt very much that Pay reform will be approved and in place to synchronise with the Annual Autumn pay award you may have been anticipating (if indeed it ever gains approval). This creates another problem for the Agency who, irrespective of its pay reform case will receive pay remit guidance for its non-powers officers imminently.
It is also important to stress that Pay reform will be Agency wide rather than targeted at 'Powers' or 'non powers'. Therefore, we will be working with the organisation to identify a course of action to respond to the summer pay remit targeting non powers staff whilst Pay reform remains unresolved.
Despite high level engagement so far the 'next steps' indicate that true negotiation with the TU's will come after Treasury approval. However, please rest assured that we are continuing to influence both the Agency and external stakeholders to help shape a pay framework which is fair, transparent and fitting of an organisation which aspires to be a world class law enforcement Agency.
As a Trade Union our role is twofold; we will work to help secure the best deal possible and then we will make sure that protection measures are in place to see no one is disadvantaged in the process.
If the business case is successful, we are committed to conducting member meetings across the country to ensure your voices are heard before providing any position to accept or decline the deal being offered. The NCOA is by far the largest Trade Union within the Agency and it is critical that we have a strong position to present to the Agency. We would therefore encourage attendance at these meetings as they are announced which already have the full support of your employer.