Unite the Union

Unite the Union

January 18, 2008 11:34 ET

Industrial Action Looms as More Prison Workers Reject Pay Offer

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Jan. 18, 2008) -

Attention: News, Industrial and Social Affairs editors

Trade unions representing 3500 prison service workers say that their members are at breaking point and warn that the prospect of coordinated industrial action now looms over prisons across England and Wales.

Following a decade of broken promises and contemptuous treatment by their employers, members of Unite, UCATT and the GMB have overwhelmingly voted to reject the HM Prison Service's pay offer of 2% due last April, 2007. At the same time the unions have been given a mandate to ballot for industrial action.

A formal meeting is arranged for 29 January and unless a better pay offer is made, the unions will move to an industrial action ballot. The unions which represent maintenance workers, catering staff and estates workers will also seek to coordinate their action with others to potentially maximise the impact of any action.

The Prison workers are angry that they earn up to Pounds Sterling 10K less than maintenance workers in comparable jobs. They point to a management report, written in 1999-2000 which acknowledged that craft employees in prisons were seriously underpaid compared to the market, and worked longer hours. Furthermore, management proposed substantial rises and a reduction in the working week from 39 hours to 37 hours, but these proposals were never implemented although the service slashed employee allowances to pay for it.

Unions say that the situation has been worsened by a series of below inflation pay awards over recent years, a number of which have been imposed on staff by the Prison Service, even though they were rejected by union members.

Unite National Officer, Ian Waddell says, "The prison service is bursting at the seams. The service is at crisis point and in the midst of all this our members are being treated with contempt. It's absolutely clear that the current pay offer is not fit for purpose and unless it's improved the prison service faces the prospect of industrial action.

Our members provide essential services, which keep the prisons running, but their reward has been a decade of neglect, abuse and broken promises.

It is only loyalty which stops our members walking out and earning up to double in the private sector. If they don't do something soon the Prison Service will face a catastrophic skills shortage which could directly affect prisoner and ultimately, public safety.

GMB National Secretary, Brian Strutton said "Our members have been treated with contempt by the Prison Service. Their pay rise was due last April and after months and months of delay the offer is 2% against inflation at the due date of 4.8%. That's a huge real terms pay cut that our members are rightly prepared to take action over."

Contact Information

  • Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315