Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/766/16720
POA conference - Prisons should not be run for profit
In May the prison officers' union POA met for their national conference in Southport. POA is increasingly at the centre of the battle against austerity and a leading trade union in the fight against the cuts. Tens of thousands of POA members have lost their jobs under Tory, New Labour, and Con-Dem governments. The number of prison officers has gone down, at the same time as the prison population has been increasing.
POA trade union facility time is under constant attack.
POA are challenging prison privatisation. Reactionary Tories are foaming at the mouth to condemn the entire public sector and welfare state whenever there is a scandal in an NHS hospital, usually resulting from under-funding and PFI privatisation. But they remain silent on scandals in privatised prisons. POA made it clear they will fight prisons being run for profit. It's bad for prison officers and prisoners.
Rob Williams, national chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) addressed the conference.
The NSSN's demand for a 24-hour general strike to stop austerity has been buoyed by the POA motion on a general strike passed at September 2012's TUC conference.
Although most trade union leaders are twiddling their thumbs over whether to call a general strike, the TUC general council has been forced to discuss it and the POA's motion has helped to promote the idea.
The Socialist Party, the only left group present, got a fantastic response at the conference. 43 delegates bought copies of the Socialist. Socialist Party and POA national executive member John Hancock addressed an anti-racist fringe meeting, linking austerity measures and the rise of the far right, and what the Socialist Party and NSSN have done to combat that.
The POA's left leadership has done a considerable amount to combat divisive racist ideas, even inside POA. Unlike some trade unions, racist BNP members are barred from POA membership.
In The Socialist 22 May 2013:
Fight the bedroom tax
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news