National Chair

Feb 2012 | 14.02.2012



At a Special Delegates Conference on 9 January 2012, the POA debated Fair and Sustainable.

As you will know by now the delegates supported the decision of the NEC to endorse the document in order to protect the pay and terms and conditions of the membership. There was some understandable pessimism from a few delegates but an acceptance of the benefits it will provide to our members who work in public sector prisons in England and Wales.

Prior to the Special Delegates Conference, an information session was held to enable delegates to raise questions and concerns with the NEC team that had negotiated the document with the employer. This was less formal, and a lively Q and A session provided clarity and perspective on the document.


Fair and Sustainable is not about job descriptions - it cannot be - as that is Job Evaluation. We have made our position clear in respect of Job Evaluation in our forums, communication and workplace video. For the avoidance of doubt we do not accept the JES structures and weightings as published by NOMS. I anticipate that job descriptions will be challenged and subject to appeal panels where necessary and when published. Within Agenda for Change in the NHS issues regarding job descriptions and evaluation have continued for many years. Our views on JES have been made clear and will continue to made clear to the employer.

In the past, the POA has had to cope with neverending and often ill-conceived structural change. Fresh Start was a watershed in our history. The Heads of Agreement negotiations, which were held in a different economic climate, came and went with no agreement - and then there was the fiasco of WFM - we still bear the scars. Hopefully, as workers within an essential and operational environment, we can look forward to a much needed period of stability.

A ballot of the affected membership will now held. I hope to be able to report and reflect on a positive ballot result in the next edition of Gatelodge. It would, however, be inappropriate to make any further comment on Fair and Sustainable until the affected membership have voted.

The membership decides the future direction of the Union As ever, the future direction of this Union will not be decided by the NEC, or branch officials acting together, but by the membership. Delegates attend conferences with open or prescribed mandates given to them by their branch members. Conference determines policy and the NEC seek to implement that policy. We lead and advise but we do not dictate as that would be a betrayal and a contradiction of our core principles. We must never forget that we are a membership Union and that a ballot provides credibility alongside the essential checks and balances on those in elected positions. The Fair and Sustainable document will be decided upon not by the NEC but by 28,000 members in England and Wales.

Please take this opportunity to point out to non-members that if they want to affect change in the workplace, to have their say on their future, then they need to join the POA.