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


POA Scotland: Public Sector Pension Reform Campaign

Present position

You will be aware that over the past couple of years POA(S) have pursued a number of avenues to take forward our grievance regarding the impact upon our members of the pension reforms introduced by the UK Coalition government. In particular we have sought to draw both political and public attention to the linking of the Normal Age of Retirement (NRA) to the State Pension Age (SPA) that will see prison officer’s work until the age of 68 and potentially beyond.

Whilst we have successfully convinced the Scottish Government of our claim that prison officers should be recognised as a uniformed service in line with the recommendations of the Hutton report, they do not currently hold the powers to enact a change arbitrarily and post referendum it is unclear at this stage what, if any, substantial powers will transfer to the devolved Scottish parliament.

However members should be assured that we have and will continue to take our case forward at every opportunity. Throughout the year we have attended the Scottish Labour party conference (for the first time) with a view to engaging with parliamentarians of both Holyrood and Westminster and voiced our concerns and successfully obtained the support of the STUC at both this year’s congress in Dundee and during Congress 2013.

As the impact on prison officers of the pension reform was the significant feature of the POA(S) support for the YES campaign in the recent referendum, we have been able to utilise that route to communicate our plight through mediums such as the Labour Research Department, Scottish Government Working Together Review and other interested observers/journalists including representatives from as far afield as Norway.

Future Events:

Going forward and as part of our continuing campaign, we are turning our attention to the forthcoming General Election in May 2015. With this in mind, attached is a letter (and leaflets) sent today to every Scottish Labour MP seeking their engagement and support with a view to achieving a Manifesto commitment that will ensure that prison officers are afforded the same respect as other uniformed services and allowed to retire from public service with dignity, at an age that reflects the demanding role they carry out on behalf of society.

Recognising that the Liberal Democrats are current partners in the coalition and therefore culpable in the reforms we are seeking to provide an opportunity for this political party to put clear blue water between their approach to pension reform and the Conservatives in the run in to the General election. We are therefore intending to lobby the Liberal Democrat Conference being held in Glasgow (SECC) on Saturday 4th October with a view to seeking their support for our campaign.

Whilst we recognise the importance of the pension reform campaign and have sought to prioritise this area we have not lost sight of the significant impact that the wider austerity measures are having on our members. Stagnating and low levels of pay in the face of ever increasing rises in the cost of living coupled with high costs of domestic and motoring fuel are having a direct impact on our member’s disposable income as well as impacting on our younger member’s ability to get a foot on the housing ladder. We have recently had an opportunity to raise these concerns with the Minister for Finance directly through his consultation with the unions prior to the publication of the forthcoming draft Budget 2015-16.

On October 15th the Scottish National Chairman and I will attend a conference arranged by the STUC during Poverty Action Week that seeks to bring together a number of interested parties to discuss in workshops areas such as the living wage and basic income, collective bargaining, rebalancing the economy and wider issues affecting the labour market. We will take the opportunity to advance our members concerns as appropriate in these forums. On the 18th of October at the culmination of Poverty Action Week the POA(S) will attend the March and Rally in Glasgow in support of the challenge against austerity and tackling inequality and the drive for decent work. Please take the opportunity to attend and voice your support for a just Scotland.

Our members should be in no doubt that irrespective of the outcome of the referendum POA(S) will continue to advance the interests of our members in every available forum open to us and as the future of the governance of Scotland starts to develop we will endeavour to have a strong voice on your behalf in that process.

Yours sincerely