Pay talks in respect of the 2017 pay settlement have not yet resumed post election. There is increasing pressure on The Treasury to re-consider the pay remit which was released in the very last hours before the pre- election purdah period. There have been increasing calls on the Treasury to end the 1% pay cap which has meant an effective pay cut year on year for civil servants. The ISU understands that Home Office is waiting for further guidance and we look forward to resuming discussions on a much more positive note than previously.
Reorganisation in CFI / ICE teams
Immigration Enforcement have announced a restructure of operations across the UK. Three ICE locations – Peterborough, Poole and Swaffham – are set to close. Meantime the CFI network is reducing, on a phased basis over the next three years or so. Earliest in those plans is the proposed closure of Belfast CFI.
These are inevitably distressing times for members involved and we are fully engaged both in national consultation and in discussions to help save jobs. We are visiting affected locations within a week of the announcements to meet with members and talk about ways to reduce the impact both individually and collectively. However if you are affected and need to discuss with someone please contact [email protected] and/or [email protected]
The move to Croydon for Home Office staff in 2MS and West London is progressing, albeit slowly. The ISU has compelled the programme to adhere to Home Office policy on House moves and Travel time; despite initial arguments that these provisions should be dis-applied. As a result of ISU engagement the position on the tax implications, dual work place and regular work outside the M25 have all be clarified and the correct information should now be on Horizon. Also following ISU intervention, and with the considerable assistance of unit managers, the move of one particular unit from Bedfont Lakes to Croydon has been deferred for 12 months.
The next phase of this project now becomes more individual as units begin the move to Croydon. The timescales have, as is almost inevitable, slipped; but we are being told that all units will be moved by the end of this year. Not all affected staff can make the move; some have already left the Department or have their plans in place to do so. But if you are affected by this move and need assistance please contact ISU HQ.
PDR Forced distribution
There remain concerns that despite instruction to the contrary some units, mainly but not exclusively within Border Force, did still apply forced distribution at the end of the PDR year. We have urgently sought the initial distribution data. Units which did apply pressure to the distribution process are expected to show a lower rate at or closer to 10%; whereas those who heeded instruction to allow the distribution to fall more naturally should show a lower distribution rate, probably closer to 4 – 6%. Getting this data has proven slightly difficult as a result of senior staff leaving the Home Office; but we will continue to press the matter.
SDA and pension contributions
The department are still seeking an explanation of exactly what has happened with the pension contributions based on SDA payments which should have occurred since the switch to Alpha in 2015. The only thing which we know for sure is that SDA is pensionable and if the payments have not been made (as appears to have happened) this is in error and not deliberate.
However the continued delay is most unwelcome, made all the more acute by the number of staff leaving the department either voluntarily or as the result of re-organisations. If you retain your right to receive SDA and are leaving the service please make sure you keep all your pay slips and pensions statements (if you have them). As soon as we have more information we will advise members.
Border Force North
As members may recall, the ISU have in recent years been all too often at loggerheads with the leadership of Border Force North. We have at times despaired at the abrasive, negative tone taken towards their own people. However we are now pleased to report a very welcome change of direction and tone following the appointment of the new Regional Director, Liz Versi. Employee relations will take time to recover but early progress has been encouraging. We urge BFN members to raise issues of concern with us – we are confident that those will be heard and addressed in far more inclusive, positive spirit. There is currently momentum for change, we should not let that pass!