National Chair

June 2017 | 01.06.2017

SHAPING THE FUTURE OF OUR UNION

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FOLLOWING THE DEPARTURE OF MIKE ROLFE TO FOLLOW A POLITICAL CAREER, MARK FAIRHURST IS NOW ACTING NATIONAL CHAIR OF THE POA.

I would like to start by saying a massive thank you to all members who elected me to the position of Vice Chair and to those branches that nominated me.

I am proud to represent you at this level and now rely on your support as your Acting Chair.

As National Vice Chair, I was given the responsibility of chairing our Annual Conference. I embraced this position with mixed emotions; I was honoured to act as your National Chair but also saddened at the sudden departure of Mike Rolfe, who resigned to pursue a political career. It was right that he was afforded the opportunity at the end of Conference to address the delegates and I wish him every future success.

I managed to get through Conference and wish to place on record my sincerest thanks to all the National Executive and full time officers for their help and support.

There will undoubtedly be testing times ahead and the result of the General Election will shape the future of our Union and indeed, the Service as a whole. In order to tackle the pressing issues, it is important that the General Secretary and I meet with the Secretary of State to progress the issues that all our members feel are of major importance.

Pension reform

I will be trying my best to resurrect pension reform talks in an attempt to reduce the pension age for all POA members. We want a retirement age of 60 and we will be forcing this issue. Any reduction in pension age for operational staff is a starting point, but 60 will always be our aim.

Right to strike

We will also be fighting the unjust injunction that has been served upon us. We must continue to campaign to get our right to strike back and repeal Section 127 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

Pay

The recommendations from the review body will soon be announced and I foresee no above inflation pay rises for our members and nothing at all for closed grades. At a time when violent attacks on our members have rocketed, it is shameful that our employer has, once again, failed to recognise closed grades. If the Pay Review Body truly are independent they will award all staff a consolidated pay award, but I will not hold my breath on that particular point!

It is important that we attempt to gain collective bargaining rights over pay so we can abandon a review body that is clearly in bed with the Government. I would like to see a Pay Review Body like the politicians have. I am sure none of our members would deny the benefits of a 10 percent pay rise!

Binding arbitration

I can also see benefits in continuing discussions over a disputes resolution policy that allows binding arbitration. We have too many disputes that simply drag on without any outcome or governors refusing to accept the status quo. This is unacceptable and we must seek to reform this policy.

Safety

Safety continues to be of concern to all POA members and I can see no reduction in assault levels unless the employer actually starts to listen to this Union, and gives us the tools and the staff to protect ourselves and make our working environment safe.

There are plans to trial protective equipment that will equip staff to protect themselves in a similar fashion to the police. Once agreement has been reached, the membership will be informed and the prisons involved in the trials will be suitably equipped.

I would like to finish by saying thank you to all delegates who attended Conference in their own time and to recognise the Scottish National Executive, the Irish Area Committee and all Honorary Life Members. It was a pleasure to meet you all.

Stay safe and all the best.

Mark Fairhurst
Acting National Chair

Please let me know if you would like a visit from the Acting National Chair by emailing nc@poauk.org.uk

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