POA members vote on prison reform package
The Ministry of Justice has said members must answer only ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to either accept or reject the entire package. The reforms on the table are:
i) a three-year pay offer ranging from 0.5% to 1%
ii) a reduction in pension age from 68 to 65
iii) as POA members are banned from striking, an independent binding arbitration body to resolve disputes.
The package comes after more than 10,000 POA members last month took unofficial action over unsafe working conditions in gaols. Officers were ordered to return to work after the MoJ took the union to court, arguing the protests amounted to “unlawful industrial action”.
But the action succeeded in getting Justice Minister Liz Truss around the table. She subsequently promised to recruit 2,500 additional prison officers.
In an interview with union-news.co.uk, POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: “Our message to members is very simple: you make an informed choice about the package.
“We are not saying that any single element of this package is tremendous. For example, the three-year pay deal – we are hamstrung by the pay cap that the government has imposed on all public sector workers.
“But we want to give our members a choice on the reduction in pension age because it means different things to different people and I’m confident our members will make the right choices.
“It’s not for me to tell anybody whether to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and we will deal with it, whether it’s accepted or rejected and we will accept the decision of our members.”