National Chair

Summer 2019 | 12.08.2019

Focus on the positives

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Unions must be seen as part of the solution not the problem

As another Annual Conference ends it is important that we focus on the positives and move forward in unity. It was a very active conference that enabled the NEC and its membership to confront issues and ‘put them to bed.’ I personally feel that we can now all move forward in unity to achieve conference policy and improve the working lives of all POA members.

In order to achieve conference policy NEC officials work behind the scenes both with the employer and political parties to reach agreements. It would be a disservice to the membership if we ignored pledges from political parties if those pledges make the terms and conditions of POA members more palatable. Until conference decrees otherwise it is important that we keep that open dialogue progressing. It is more important than ever that in the present political climate the POA remain politically astute in order to achieve conference policy.

WE CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR PAVA

The roll out of PAVA has now gathered pace. The recent legal challenge has been stayed due to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission accepting the employer’s new guidance. It seems odd that in the middle of a 28-day consultation period about that new guidance, the employer has given the impression that the guidance has all been agreed. Nothing could be further from the truth. We await developments with amusement, but one thing is for certain, the roll out will continue and the POA will hold the employer to account and act if they attempt to stall.

This has only been possible because of our ‘ticking clock’ and the 28- day notice. Within the space of 28 days we were furnished with a timetable for the training of staff and the next batch of prisons to get PAVA. I thank you for your support.

The indicative ballot members held will be a clear indication to HMPPS that ‘enough is enough’ and if they don’t start to listen and act, we will unite and ensure our health and safety at work is protected.

As the year progresses we have many important negotiations to facilitate. We await the latest pay award. HMP Birmingham returns to the public sector. We have plans to negotiate a new disputes resolution procedure that includes binding arbitration. We enter negotiations into the problems surrounding our disciplinary procedures and there are plans to discuss Advanced Prison Officers and pensionable overtime. Of course, we will continue to press for collective bargaining rights over pay and force the retirement age issue with government. Maybe the outcome of the FBU and judges’ case will ultimately dictate that the government were in fact wrong to change our pension scheme, discriminated against us and now have to admit their mistake and rectify it.

PRISONS AT RISK

There have been some interesting press reports of late, in particular surrounding events at Gartree and Winchester. At these two prisons imitation firearms were either found or suspected of being used. Gartree has a full lock down search whilst Winchester carries on as normal! Then we have the report in several papers that prisoners at Winchester have broken out of cells by making a hole in the wall, only for the MOJ to deny this ever happened, despite that POA having irrefutable evidence that it happened numerous times and has been reported to the SMT! I wonder if the MOJ spokesperson will be disciplined for telling blatant lies?

As the year progresses, I have many invites to attend branch meetings so please keep the invites coming in. I like nothing more than getting around branches, conversing with members and being open and honest with them.

To those staff suffering from the aftermath of assaults, please do not suffer in silence and seek support. I wish you all well and keep safe.