The Probation Service is proposing to remove the automatic annual increments awarded to most workers. It is the first public-service sector to come out with this proposal. If it is successful, other public service bosses are bound to follow the example.
The two unions involved, NAPO (National Association of Probation Officers) and Unison (which organises most of the admin staff), have already lodged a dispute against this move and have an indicative ballot for action starting on 1 May.
Their strategy is to move toward strike action to bring the employers back to negotiations. At the same time they are pursuing legal action about possible breach of contract.
In the background is the Government’s ongoing attempt to downgrade the Probation Service and open up its core functions to private sector competition.