General Secretary

August 2009 | 03.08.2009

Beauty and the Beast

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So who is the “Beauty” and who is the “Beast?”.

Since Annual Conference 2009 it is clear that the Union has been left some what confused and disappointed.  The NEC have been left hogtied and distracted.

It is now time to put this all back in order.

Market Testing
The POA remains totally opposed to Market Testing.

Privatisation
The POA remains totally opposed to privatisation of prisons and all public services.

“Prisons are not for Profit”
Our Campaign is now launched, we will take our message to the heart of Government, to all other trade unions and to the TUC.  We will not bow our heads to Government or the Private Sector.  Our fight now begins in ernest.  We are all part of that fight.

Our Ballot will take place will take place between the 10th – 21st August 2009.  All branches will be visited by the NEC. We will not allow any public or private company to run prisons for profit.  We will fight for every private prison to be returned to the Public Sector and support our members to do this.

Full Staffing
The POA’s Policy is that workplaces where our members work be it in the NHS or prisons throughout the United Kingdom, should be fully staffed to levels agreed between the Union and the Employer.

Trade Union Rights
The POA believes that Prison Officers should have full rights no different then any other worker.  Further, the current trade union laws in the UK should be removed and replaced with trade union freedom, consistent with international law.

Pay
The POA believes that all workers pay should be determined through “free collective bargaining” and no pay rise should be imposed by the Employer.

Prison Regimes
The POA believes that prison regimes, should be consistent in ensuring that the act of imprisonment, punishes the offender and more importantly, provides fair opportunity for all offenders to be rehabilitated.  No regime should be promised where it is not affordable and should always be consistently provided.

Provision of Mental Health Care
The POA believes that no offender with mental health needs, should be held in prison unless the threat that the individual presents is such as to debar them from being treated within the NHS.  Where individuals of this nature are held in prison then this should be only for as long as this remains justifiable when examined by a panel of independent experts.

Use of Imprisonment
The POA are committed as public servants to holding those sent to prison by the Courts.  The POA believes that imprisonment should be reserved for those offenders, whose criminal activity is such that anyone within a civil society, would be put at risk should any of these individuals be allowed their freedom during the prison sentence.

So judge for yourself the Union is not the “beast” we are the voice of “common sense”, “reason” and “human rights”.

This Government, the NOMS Board and the Prison Service Management are not the “Beauty”!!

Their commitment is to promise to deliver everything - not to give resource - then to blame Prison Officers and their Union as being responsible for the failures of the Prison System.

I would like to thank the Wymott Branch during my recent visit with the National Chairman for putting forward, forcefully their views.  The POA needs as a Union to respond to pressure not by being pushed over.  We need to start to push back even harder as individuals and collectively as a Union.

Don’t just wait to be told but take the initiative at Branch level.  Visit your MP’s Surgery both in your home area and within the Constituency that your prison is in. All members need to show your unity and strength.

For those members who seek to breach our policies they need to understand that where they continue they will be dealt with harshly, consistently, fairly for sure, but disciplined for the good of the Union and all of its membership.

Our Rules belong to the Union and its members not the Courts.  It is for the Union to decide what “music” and which “dance” – not the Government lackies.

We cannot afford to be a “Cinderella” organisation, only to run away when the chimes sound.

The NEC will lead. We will enact your policies.  We can only lead where you will follow!!

The Tolpuddle Festival showed the POA as a united fighting Union.  The launch of our Prisons not for Profit Campaign was the biggest focus of the festival.  I would place on record my thanks to all POA members who attended and particular thanks to the 65 members of our Union, other trade unions and members of the general public who completed the hike for rights.  My thanks also go to the Northern Ireland Pipe Band and to Finlay Spratt for organising the attendance of the band, who were the focal point of the banner parade through the village of Tolpuddle. 

The POA membership has never been held in higher regard within the Trade Union and Labour movement.  Help us to maintain and improve that position. 

Let us all support each other, together we will win through.

Brian Caton
General Secretary