Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/524/3887
The Socialist 12 March 2008 |
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Prison officers reject pay offer
John Hancock, speaking at Socialist Party congress 2008, photo Paul Mattsson
ON 8 March, John Hancock, (above) branch secretary of the Prison Officers Association (POA) in Wormwood Scrubs prison, west London, brought greetings to the Socialist Party's annual conference. He described 2007 as "a remarkable year", when the POA held its first ever national strike.
He explained that the catalyst for the strike was the phasing in of a pay award, making it only worth 1.9% but there are many other issues which prison officers are angry about. The number of prisoners doubled over the last ten years, but the number of prison officers has been halved. Assaults are up by 50% on male staff and by 110% on female staff.
Justice minister Jack Straw called the strike illegal, took out an injunction on the POA and subsequently banned prison staff from striking. But "we deserve to be treated as a free, independent trade union," John declared, before thanking The Socialist for the coverage of their dispute.
Now, 85% of POA members in England and Wales have voted to reject the 2008 pay offer of 2.2%. They are still in dispute over last year's pay, so there could be further confrontations with the government in the near future.