Pay 2015/ AAA & SDA
You would be entirely forgiven if you have lost the timeline over the massively protracted Pay 2015 process. A brief recap may help, previous circulars on this subject are available on the ISU website for anyone wishing to see closer detail.
The ISU met with the Department a grand total of 4 times before the imposition of Pay 2015 and the unnecessary, vindictive exclusion of staff on AAA & SDA from payment. Only two of those meetings were at all substantial in nature, vital data requested at the outset of discussions was not provided, it was plain that the negotiating team had very tight, unfriendly brief and access to senior decision makers was denied. In short, Departmental conduct of discussions was disrespectful to ISU members.
Following the decision to impose in December 2015 the Second Permanent Secretary Oliver Robbins called for the Unions to “get back around the table” to discuss ending of the so-called legacy allowances, AAA & SDA. Despite our frustrations at Departmental conduct the ISU had never in fact withdrawn from discussions. We called on the Department to continue meetings with us.
On 18th January 2016 the ISU met with Mr Robbins to repeat our message that we had not left the negotiating table, that we remain willing to continue talks and that we still awaited data first requested five months earlier. The Permanent Secretary promised that we would have that data and further meetings within around three weeks. In the normal course of events, Permanent Secretary promises are cast iron guarantee.
And indeed some – but by no means all – of the requested data was later received while a further meeting, albeit closer to 2 months later, was set for this afternoon, 10th March 2016, to continue the discussion on AAA & SDA alongside early discussion on Pay 2016. With only hours to go before that meeting, we were informed by Employee Relations this morning that they would not now discuss ‘legacy allowances’ today but only the preliminaries for Pay 2016.
Further meetings with senior representatives from Border Force and Immigration Enforcement will apparently be arranged shortly. We certainly did ask for senior representatives from the business to be involved in discussions to supplement the more theoretical knowledge of the Negotiating Team but we did not seek separate conversations. Our position is that much improvement to all terms and conditions of service is in fact possible – and of benefit to both staff and the Department – provided that these issues are considered imaginatively in the round, rather than with dogmatic attachment to flawed preconceptions. For this everyone needs to be in the room and talks cannot be subcontracted. Sadly it is not at all clear that the Department are willing to engage with us on a good faith basis.
We had hoped that, following Permanent Secretary escalation, the Department would engage in better faith on an issue which has caused such enormous disquiet and staff accusations of corporate bullying. We find it incomprehensible that we should again find ourselves met with such disregard. The Department seem to have little care for the harm they are causing to ISU members or indeed to their own reputations. Few now believe that Departmental conduct of these issues at all embodies the HO Values they proclaim.
A further “extraordinary” meeting with Mr Robbins has been scheduled for 22nd April, in part to review progress on this issue. If that meeting were occurring today we would renew our call for this entire dispute to be referred to ACAS for independent mediation. This we will do when we meet in the event that faith in process cannot be restored before then.
While we are profoundly disappointed in the Department’s renewed failure to engage with us meaningfully in the end we must serve members’ interests. Therefore despite Departmental provocations we remain ready and able to meet with the employer to seek resolution to these difficult issues and secure just, equitable outcome.
We call upon the employer now to live up to their own Values and deal with these issues meaningfully, in good faith and without further delay.
ISU members deserve respect.
Lucy Moreton Mark Gribbin
ISU General Secretary ISU National Chair