Workplace news in brief

POA special conference

In 2013 at a special delegates conference, the Prison Officers Association (POA) voted in favour of “efficiency benchmarking” – a cost saving exercise that promised to keep the prison service in public ownership, which was proposed by the National Offender Management Service. The union voted in favour, on the understanding that any savings would not impact the safety of its members. Since then there has been a dramatic increase in violence on staff and staff numbers have been cut to dangerous levels. Many prison inspections since the introduction of benchmarking have criticised staffing levels and highlighted how increasingly unsafe prisons have become for both inmates and workers. On 14 January POA members will convene again at a special delegates conference to debate and vote on the withdrawal from benchmarking. The conference was called by the Wormwood Scrubs branch. It would seem that there is a huge appetite for this debate among POA members.

A POA member

Junior docs strike back

Junior doctors are to carry out their threat to strike after three weeks of talks with NHS bosses and the government failed to resolve the contract row. England’s 45,000 junior doctors are to stage their first walkout in 40 years on 12 January, after suspending previous action in December 2015. They will only provide emergency cover in hospitals. A further 24-hour walkout will take place on 28 January with a full withdrawal of labour between 8am and 5pm on 10 February.

Kill the Bill meeting

Transport workers’ union the RMT in Lancashire has organised a public meeting against the anti-trade union laws on 27 January. The meeting will take place at Friends Meeting House in Lancaster at 7pm with speakers including Tony Mulhearn, former Liverpool councillor and Socialist Party member; Steve Hedley, RMT assistant general secretary; Terry Renshaw, one of the Shrewsbury pickets. The aim of the meeting is to build a serious and committed campaign against the laws which are likely to be in force by March 2016.

Steve Metcalfe, RMT