Scotland

General News, Articles and Information from The POA North of the Border:

14.07.2009

POA (Scotland) Newsletter (Issue No. 15) July 2009: Scottish Trade Union Congress 2009

Colleagues,

Welcome to the July edition of the Scottish newsletter which is produced by the Scottish National Committee to update you, the membership, on any issues that are relevant to Scotland.

This edition includes an item on HMP Noranside, which is the first of a series of themes which we intend to include in all future newsletters. We have chosen Noranside as the first prison in the hope that we can present the views of the staff who work there. In recent years much has been said and written about the SPS Open Estate, most of which has been negative, and all the negativity has a huge impact on the morale of staff. The reality is both Noranside and Castle Huntly have a pivotal role to play in Scotland’s criminal Justice system and the staff in the open estate should be appreciated for their efforts, instead of constantly finding themselves under the spot light of negativity and facing criticism.

Our MSPs, in particular, should be more careful of using the open estate as a political football, before they open their mouths to try and gain some political advantage, they should consider those who are doing their best in clearly difficult circumstances, which is of course, the staff.

Other items in this edition include an update on the uniform, HMP Low Moss, pay, HMCIP, Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC), information on the POAS legal cover, an update on the SPS Disciplinary and Grievance procedure, the POA Conference in Southport, news from our colleagues in the private sector, an article on “swine flu”, the Steve Bell Memorial Trophy, the private sector in Scotland, an update on the needle exchange, a verdict by the European Court of Justice on leave entitlement, the Fire Fighters Charity and for the first time we have included a quiz which has a prize for the winning entry selected.

John Speed, SNC

SCOTTISH TRADE UNION CONGRESS 2009

 

 

This year’s 2009 STUC conference took place at the Perth Concert Halls between Monday 20th April and Wednesday 22nd April. The theme for this year’s conference was “Active Unions…….. Rebuilding Collective Prosperity” and there was the usual topics of debate and discussion as is normal for these events.

The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harmon and Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray addressed conference as did Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and the Scottish Cabinet Minister for Education and Life Long Learning, Fiona Hyslop.

The POAS did not have a motion submitted on the agenda; however we did support motions from a number of other organisations which had relevance to ours, such as a call for additional holidays, to include St Andrews Day, and a call to safeguard Public Sector Pensions and also a call to condemn further efficiency savings in the public sector.

The conference coincided with this years budget, which clearly had an effect on a huge debate on Public Services and it was obvious that the public sector in Scotland were angry at the impact Alastair Darling’s budget was going to have on the public sector.

The POAS was also intending to support a motion regarding violence in the workplace and a call to ensure more protection is given to public sector workers while carrying out their normal duties. Unfortunately, however the motion was withdrawn as the General Council had difficulty in the wording of the motion that was submitted.

As well as the events of conference representatives of the Scottish National Committee attended a number of fringe meetings, including one organised by the Scottish Union Learning Fund (SULF) and also an event for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Phil Thomas of the SNC composed the following in support of a motion that condemned the call for continuous efficiency savings-:

“The POA in Scotland knows only too well what the term efficiency savings actually mean for its members.”

“All public sector organisations are an easy target for any Government savings initiative and the S.P.S is no different. As a public sector service, the S.P.S and the members of the P.O.A have saved the Government millions of pounds in expenditure, this was achieved through managing the overcrowding with no additional staff or prisoner accommodation”.

“The POA members are not alone as this has been a trend for many years within all public sector forces such as Councils, Schools, hospitals and the Emergency Services. We achieve the impossible and then we are targeted the following year for further cuts, because they believe that we will go that extra mile again. Well it’s the turn of the Government to go that extra mile and leave us alone”

“The easiest way the Government can justify any efficiency within the public sector is to sound the same old lament and claim it’s the tax payer’s money. It is the tax payer’s money and we want it to go towards better hospitals, schools and public services and not towards a second home or Sky Box Office movies”.

The Scottish Government pay American and French companies to house our inmates at H.M.P. Addiewell and Kilmarnock. These companies provide the prisoners with the basic requirements and entitlements which in turn will provide a bigger profit for these foreign organisations. It is still the Scottish tax payer who pays for these jails to be operated and yes they are cheaper to run because they staff their jails with far less staff than the public sector prisons and they pay our Scottish and British tax paying officers a pittance to work with some of Europe’s most dangerous criminals”

“It is the responsibility of the Scottish Government to manage the people they incarcerate and not to off load the responsibility to foreign organisations and allow them to profit from crime on our streets”

“Like all public sector services we are told that our budget is to reduce by 2.5%-5% and these decision makers and penny pinchers do not know how our organisation operates or where or how the savings can be made. Look at the state of our hospitals, schools, emergency services, public transport and the crime rate in Scotland, do we need cuts or investment”

John Speed, on behalf of the POAS made the following statement in relation to a motion that was withdrawn regarding violence in the workplace-;

“Colleagues,

The POA are slightly disappointed that this motion has been withdrawn as we fully intended supporting it, as it has great relevance to all our members and our working environment. Prison Officers are covered under the Emergency Workers Bill and we would like to thank the S.T.U.C for the support they gave us to ensure we were mentioned on the bill, in particular Ian Tasker, who was very helpful, as it did take some effort to get Prison staff included”.

“However as the withdrawn motion suggested this piece of legislation does need clarification, because, to be honest it is as clear as mud. When for example does the legislation kick in? Does it need to be a full riot situation or is it during occasion when staff are carrying out their general duties?”

“The fact of the matter is everyone is entitled to believe they are safe when they go to work, it doesn’t matter where that place is, be it a school, a hospital, a shop, a bookies or a prison and anyone who attacks any of our members should be punished for their actions, and when I say punished I mean punished, to ensure they, and everyone understands it is not acceptable”

“It should also be stressed that no form of violence is acceptable in our workplace or should be tolerated, be it physical or verbal and we in the P.O.A will happily support any initiative that will make our working environment safer for all”

Thank you.

John Speed SNC