Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/11586

Posted on 31 March 2011 at 20:05 GMT

POA fights privatisation of Birmingham prison

Interview with POA assistant secretary, Joe Simpson

Prison Officers Association (POA) assistant secretary, Joe Simpson, photo by Socialist Party

Prison Officers Association (POA) assistant secretary, Joe Simpson, photo by Socialist Party

The Con-Dems have sold Birmingham prison to private security firm G4S. This is the first existing public sector prison to be contracted out.
The POA prison officers' union opposes privatisation and has warned that it will challenge the move.
Prison officers in prisons that are privatised could be forced out of the collective bargaining agreement with the government and face worse terms and conditions.
They could also suffer attacks on their pensions. According to the BBC, justice minister Ken Clarke told MPs that the "military are involved" in contingency plans should prison officers stage a strike.
The Socialist spoke to Joe Simpson, assistant secretary of the POA.

What's going on at the moment?

Prison Officers Association (POA) assistant secretary, Joe Simpson. speaking at a London Socialist Party meeting

Prison Officers Association (POA) assistant secretary, Joe Simpson. speaking at a London Socialist Party meeting

We are living at the moment with threats of injunctions against the union. It's been going on since the start of the week when we put out two circulars to our members reminding them of the policies of the union.

We immediately got a letter from the Ministry of Justice asking us to withdraw the circulars because they believed we were inducing prison officers to take industrial action which we weren't.

This resulted in another letter coming back saying that they were going to seek 'injunctive relief' against the POA, ie to get an injunction to stop us from doing anything.

If we try to do anything in the meantime they can just come in and seize the assets of the union. Phil Wheatley, who was director general of the prison service and is now on the board of directors of G4S, who've just won the bid for Birmingham, did say that if we ever went on strike he would 'own Cronin House', which is our HQ.

What are the policies of the union?

The policies of the union are that we would take industrial action up to and including strike action if a public prison went over to private. We are opposed to privatisation because we believe that the state has a fundamental obligation, that if it's going to sentence its citizens then it should also have the obligation of looking after them and rehabilitating them.

But what they're doing now is actually selling their obligation to the lowest bidder just to get out of that.

What will privatisation mean for members?

For members we are hitting a level of uncertainty here. This is unprecedented.

We've never ever had a prison go over to the private sector and now Birmingham has. The state of play now is that we are going to meet with the chief executive of the National Offending Management Service.

We've requested a meeting with the Prisons Minister, Crispin Blunt, who we are meeting on Monday 4 April 2011 at 5pm. And we're also going to be asking for a meeting with Brendan Barber of the TUC for support. We have received support from individual unions, RMT, PCS.

But the thing that disappointed us was that a Labour front bencher got up and actually supported everything that ken Clarke was saying, that was Sadiq Khan.

The opposition is in total agreement. This was a process that was started by a Labour government. They started this process in 2009.

Was it Labour who originally took away your right to strike?

Jack Straw brought back section 127. Actually it was 1994 when we lost our industrial rights through a Thatcherite government in which Ken Clarke was one of the more prominent MPs.

Then we signed up to the JIRPA [joint industrial relations procedural arrangement] which was a no-strike agreement because we thought we were getting a deal.

But then management started to veto what was a dispute, they were deciding what was a dispute and when we went to get agreement from court they agreed with the prison service so we withdrew from the arrangement.

When we withdrew Jack Straw tried to get another no-strike deal. When we refused he brought back 127 on the statute books. In fact the law that was brought in by Jack Straw is worse than what the Tories put in in 1994.

The only thing they could do in 2008 was to come out and start dismissing people which we believe they will try to do anyway. This is all about the union being bullied by an employer and by government.

How can readers of the Socialist support your members?

We will accept any support from anyone in our fight against this. We've got policies out there where we're asking our branches to organise meetings, which they will be doing over the next couple of days in the lunch hour.

We're even getting threatening letters about that from the employer, calling it industrial action! Having a meeting in our own time! We believe that government are trying to make law-abiding members of the public, ie the professional men and women who work in our prisons, slaves to the state. And to the private company now.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

POA:

triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

triangleWorkplace news in brief

trianglePrison deaths scandal

triangleWhy prison officers rejected pay and pensions deal

Privatisation:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangleNHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

Prisons:

triangleRate of black imprisonment worse than US

triangleAction needed to defend workers at the sharp end of prisons crisis

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2