General Secretary: 150 years of making history

At the point of writing this article the TUC will be commencing its historic 150th Anniversary in Manchester

The POA NEC placed two motions regarding National Sectoral Bargaining and calling for an Independent Inquiry into Privatisation.

The wording of the motions are as follows: In relation to National Sectoral bargaining; “Congress recognises that pay review bodies in the United Kingdom is a Government mechanism to replace collective bargaining for certain groups of employees in the public sector, including the Prison Service pay review body. Different pay review bodies also cover school teachers, nurses, doctors and other health professionals. It is noted by Congress that the review bodies are supposed to be independent of Government when making recommendations after taking evidence from employer and trade unions but unfortunately the review bodies are selected, paid, and follow a remit from treasury and government which has led to pay cuts since 2010 with review bodies adhering to the government agenda. Congress accept that pay review bodies should be disbanded as they are not independent of government and effectively do as they are told to achieve government objectives on pay. Congress further instructs the General Council to work with the Labour party and other organisations who support a return to national sectoral collective bargaining.”


The TUC General Purposes Committee asked the POA, along with PCS who put in a motion regarding Public Sector pay and the Fire Brigades Union who have put in amendments along with the Society of Radiographers, for the motions and amendments to be heard together. All four unions agreed to that request and should make for an interesting debate at Congress.

Similarly, on our second motion regarding an Independent Inquiry into Privatisation, four Unions being Unison, Unite the Union, POA and ASLEF have agreed a composite motion encompassing the wording of all four unions. Our origin al wording was “Congress notes the debacle regarding Carillion and ultimately its collapse and notes with concern the cost to the tax payer with further privatisation of the public services announced including new prisons, probation services and some health services. Congress notes that there has been no Independent Inquiry on the costs of privatisation and the failed private finance initiative. The lessons of privatisation of our railways, healthcare, energy, royal mail, prisons and other services have been ignored by successive governments and even with the collapse of Carillion and the debt of failed privatisation and the private finance initiative costing the tax payer more with the privateers continually bailed out. Congress calls on the TUC General Council to campaign for an independent inquiry into privatisation where trade unions can give evidence regarding their particular sectors to demonstrate that it actually costs more in the long run with poorer services and poorer terms and conditions for workers in the race to the bottom”.


The POA delegation will also be playing a significant part at Congress and fully participating in those debates and attending the various fringe meetings at the event to ensure our voice is heard in the union movement at this showpiece event in the trade union calendar.

One of the fringe meetings, where our National Chairman Mark Fairhurst has been asked to speak, is Justice for Colombia, where Mark and Joe Simpson Deputy General Secretary attended as part of an international delegation to pressure politicians in that region of the world to ensure there is a lasting peace process that protects trade unionists. The POA have a proud history in assisting and supporting Justice for Colombia along with other trade unions within the TUC. Various cross sections of politicians and indeed the media along with Thompsons Solicitors continue this campaign and that important international solidarity will continue with the POA having an influence.

Joe Simpson, Deputy General Secretary, will be speaking at the NSSN rally and Sarah Rigby NEC member will be speaking as part of a panel representing the POA at the TUCG fringe meeting. Jackie Marshall NEC member has been selected as a teller at this years TUC and we also have a young member from Leeds, Harriet Austin, attending taking annual leave to come as an observer. I am very grateful to Harriet for attending in her own time. It is young people like Harriet who will be the cornerstone of the future not just in the POA but the trade union movement. A special thanks to Phil Hannant and Dave Ferry both of Frankland for attending as delegates and playing a full role participating in the event. The TUC has been a major success this year and the future can be bright if we work and campaign together for workers rights and terms and conditions. I would like to thank all of the POA delegation, observers for their professionalism in representing not just the POA but also the trade union movement.

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.