Novus dispute update: a message from the branch

14 May 2021

Firstly, we want to congratulate all those members for the last two days of action. We know how difficult this will have been for many of you especially given the continual stream of intimidatory communications from the employer. 

Your action has made a difference.

As expected and true to form, (because all employers seek to undermine workers' efforts when it comes to industrial action), Novus communications over the past two days reported small numbers taking action. 

We all know only too well that Novus management can't count properly -  they under-sold their staff when bidding for the PEF contract and then attempted to increase our contact hours and had to reduce staff head count when they realised that they couldn't milk as much profit as they had initially hoped. We fought and won that battle including avoiding any compulsory redundancies and we can win again.

UCU know from our own reports on the ground that in many prisons across different LOTS we had 80-100% of staff observing the strike and prison governors expressing their (often very vocal) concern because no one was there to meet learners. 

The employer can spin this however they choose but your action matters and is drawing attention of the contract managers in HMPPS who will undoubtedly be asking Novus to explain why they remain the only provider who isn't engaging with UCU. Your strike action matters. As workers you matter. Your health and safety at work matters as does the right of your elected representatives to carry out your mandate.

This message has been sent loud and clear to Novus management by:

  • those voting for and taking strike action;
  • the 100s of messages of support and solidarity the branch has received (check out @ucuprisoned #PrisonEdStrike on Twitter)
  • the donations to the fighting fund
  • the MP's that have already signed the EDM.

In response to the latest communication from the LTE Group, the committee would direct members to the background information available here and to the previous branch committee email dated 20 March. As an aside, we note with interest that the communication from Novus makes no reference to the setting up of a fake Twitter account or the inflammatory posts on social media by said account and its followers.

Shamefully, UCU reps and members have been under investigation for 5 months without any understanding of what they are accused of or any right of reply. Not only does this breach natural justice but it is very intimidatory and concerning for reps and members who feel bullied, harassed and intimidated by this rumbling threat. 

LTE's own policies state that "It is the impact of the conduct and not the intention of the perpetrator that determines what constitutes harassment"

Finally, UCU reps both locally and nationally continue to work very hard to resolve this dispute and bring about long-lasting improvements to the working lives and experiences of our members. 

Your action and engagement with your union is fundamental to this endeavour. 

Please feel free to share this update with both members and non-members and we will seek to update you with any developments as and when they occur.

In solidarity

UCU Novus branch committee 

Last updated: 26 July 2021