National Chair

Issue 66 | 29.03.2010

Brown's Five Election Pledges


Dear Colleagues

Over the weekend we all read or heard the 5 pledges of the Prime Minister as Labour plan to secure another term of office in Government. We must know how these pledges will impact on the security, safety and long term future of the POA and its membership as well as the country as a whole.

The general election is only weeks away and this union and the membership must do all it can to achieve and manage change that will give us a better future.

Gordon says, he will secure the economic recovery, make Government more accountable and he has pledged to raise living standards, protect frontline services, strengthen fairness and build a high tech economy.

So how does this impact on the Union and what do we do, to ensure he upholds the statement that the Labour Party is the people’s party?

Firstly, I will write to Mr. Brown on behalf of the Union to seek clarification on some of these pledges.

We can’t allow any pledge to the country and this Union to be excluded from the Labour Manifesto, if it is beneficial to our members. This Union made that mistake when the party were in opposition and promised to restore our trade union rights. We all know the current state of affairs on this subject and the cost of pursuing justice to the European Courts and ILO.

In respect of the Economy and making Government more accountable, we need to seek clarification on the budget and future budgets for NOMS and the Ministry of Justice, because if they are to be subject to more cuts, frontline services will be affected. The privatisation of our prisons and public services can’t continue if Government are to be accountable and so we need to ask Gordon what he means by these statements in respect of prison and public service privatisation.

Gordon has pledged to improve living standards, this may be a general pledge but we need to ask how this will impact on new and existing staff of the service, considering the starting salary of £14,000 for new officer 2’s is not a decent or a fair wage. I know that NOMS say they can earn more, but the reality is that this spot rate of pay is unacceptable. Again, we hear the famous statement protect front line services. It is about time that we sought clarity from the Prime Minister to see if he accepts that uniformed staff of the Prison Service are classed as a frontline service. He talks about fairness and strengthening fairness. The current state of industrial relations in the Service are at rock bottom and the way staff are being treated daily is anything but fair. The current problems in Northern Ireland and threat of court action against our members and this Union demonstrates the real problems.

A high tech Economy can be seen as a modern approach to the 21st Century, but if his plans are built on the record of NOMS and the NHS we could be in for expensive failures.

The membership of this Union needs to engage with all Politicians and prospective Politicians to make sure our concerns and needs are met; and included in all party manifestos. The work that we need to undertake is not going to be easy, but as I have said on a number of occasions, we must become a campaigning Union and improve our profile across the political sphere.

The time is right for this Union to act, not as individuals but as a collective.

We can continue to use the blame culture, lashing out at those who are trying to achieve and manage change, or we can work together to steer change, influence policy and government.

Unity is Strength, but division only serves to encourage the employer and government to attack and impose. No individual is bigger than the Union and every member has the right to express their views, but we all must respect democracy.

Colin Moses
National Chairman