National Chair

Issue 58 | 01.09.2009

Market Testing and Privatisation


Dear Colleagues


The result of the workplace ballot, as to whether or not the POA WILL TAKE INDUSTRIAL ACTION UP TO AND INCLUDING STRIKE ACTION, should any public sector prison be privatised as a result of a failed Market Test bid has returned a positive vote “in favour.”


  • We will action this mandate if necessary.

Remember the effects of these processes and changes being proposed, can affect the terms and conditions of many POA members. They may lead to POA members being TUPED across to private providers. The NEC are aware that some POA members have been subject to a TUPE transfer, as part of the changes introduced in healthcare but a wholesale transfer is different. We know that the TUPE regulations will only provide so much protection and that the private companies may well restructure on a business need resulting in POA members being significantly affected after the transfer has taken place.

We are currently seeking legal advice on this matter and doing all we can to stop a process that we know is unnecessary and designed to featherbed the private sector. Whether we will be successful or even have a legal challenge remains to be seen, but we have engaged the best in the business to assist us.

Market Testing is only one of the strands being introduced by Government, NOMS and the Prison Service to effect change to try and manage the reduced budgets imposed by Treasury on the Prison Service and other Public Sector services.

On the 27th April 2009, Jack Straw announced the new prisons that will be operated by the profiteers without any public sector opposition. This demonstrates the intention of the Labour Government, but be under no illusion, the Conservatives views and proposals are far worse, they intend to contract out. So we are clearly in for a hard time in the forthcoming months and years ahead, unless we manage to stop these policies from the Government of today and any future Government with the same ideas.

  • If we are to protect our Public Sector Prisons and other Public Services, we must not allow change to be introduced without opposition.
  • The POA is not opposed to change, in fact we have embraced change year on year and will do so again, providing it is for the betterment of the service.
  • Privatisation is not for the betterment of the Service, it only serves to line the pockets of the profiteers.
  • We need to engage with other unions facing similar challenges and ensure the TUC support the Campaign Prisons are not for Profit and other campaigns to Protect Public Services.

The TUC Congress is only days away and we will be actively promoting our campaign and supporting other unions with the same principles as this Union, in the opposition to the Privatisation of our Public Services.

The NEC recently invited Bob Crow General Secretary of the RMT to address them and listened to his advice on how he is trying to protect his members and their terms and conditions. Billy Hayes General Secretary of the CWU (Postal Workers Union) also addressed the Executive and outlined the problems his union faces as the Government look to privatise our postal services. As did Brendan Barber General Secretary of the TUC and Jonathan Ledger General Secretary of NAPO all pledged their support to the POA in our campaign to keep prisons public.

  • It is clear, the Government and many other employers are using the recession to try and save money, drive down terms and conditions and use public sympathy to achieve their aims.

As a responsible Trades Union we accept the difficulties the world faces as a result of the global recession, but we will not stand by and allow our members to be used as scapegoats for the failure of those in authority and of course the directors of the private banking industry who seem to be the real cause of the problems the world faces today. However, we still see on a daily basis the massive bonuses and salaries given to these individuals.

If, we as a Union are to be successful in our campaigns,

  • We need to work hard at every level using the media to highlight the dangerous and violent prisons that we work in and the problems we face everyday.
  • We need to campaign with our MP’s, or against them if they support the Privatisation of our Public Services.
  • The Executive has already started the process, with a parliamentary briefing being sent to all MP’s and a copy of last months Gatelodge.

However, the best recourses and the most influential resources is the membership and so we ask every member to work with the Union, support the Union as we try to support those in the spotlight today, because tomorrow it may well be you.

The NEC is aware of the concerns of the membership as we face massive change and imposition. We are doing all we can to stave off the changes and protect the membership. However, we need your support and we have to be united, otherwise we will be divided and fail.

We will continue to seek a negotiated settlement with NOMS through meetings and keep you informed of our progress.

Colin Moses
National Chairman