Further to POA Circular 98/2021 which outlines the indicative ballot timetable and why we are consulting with our OSG members in relation to pay and whether you wish to consider industrial action up to and including strike action.

The indicative ballot is important to gauge the feelings of our OSG members.  The NEC simply want you to inform us if you would support the option of action or not. OSGs are valued members of the POA, and it would be quite wrong of the NEC if we did not seek your views on the important issue of your pay and what you want to do about your pay being effectively cut because of the rising cost of inflation and take-home pay diminishing simply because of increased costs such as petrol, food, increases to national insurance and energy prices. The POA have a history of seeking the views of our OSG members through the ballot process and if we get a positive indication for those members affected through this ballot then the NEC will consider those views and action them accordingly through a strategy that will be communicated to the membership. This ballot is at the heart of democracy, and it is important that the views of OSGs are heard loud and clear, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of the workplace ballot and in particular the strength of feeling.

Since POA Circular 98/2021 was issued on the 15th November 2021, we have seen a dramatic increase in applications to join the POA for the first time or re-join from OSGs across the country. This certainly indicates to me that our OSG members want to be able to exercise their democratic right and vote in this ballot. The POA welcomes those new or returning members as this is your rightful home. I also want to set the record straight from some distraction outside the POA that the NEC are using the OSGs as some weapon for Prison Officer grades who do not have the right to strike. Anyone that understands Trade Union Legislation will know that to be complete nonsense.

Without getting distracted from the real issues it is suffice to state that this is not the first time that OSGs have been consulted by way of workplace ballot on their views. The POA have a track record as stated of balloting selected parts of their membership. In 1996 as a result of detailed negotiations during that pay round between the POA and Prison Service the membership accepted the new terms and conditions as detailed in PSI 42/97 which was the new OSG terms and conditions. OSGs were further consulted and balloted in 2012, 2015 and 2018 on a variety of issues in order to protect their terms and conditions. In 2012 Conference determined there should be a ballot to determine whether OSGs wished to take industrial action in relation to TUPE transfer to MITIE. The POA NEC secured a deal that protected our members on the back of this issue with just the threat of a ballot. On legal advice at that time, we delayed the ballot but entered discussion with the employer that protected the OSG membership at that time. In 2015 the OSGs were balloted on the NOMS and POA, OSG Agreement and our OSG members voted in favour of that agreement. In 2018 OSGs were consulted by way of a work- place ballot on pay. The POA have never been afraid of seeking the views of our OSG members on important issues. That is what a trade union does and listens to the outcome of those ballots and uses the outcome as leverage to get the best deals possible. The POA NEC will not be distracted or deflected from balloting or indeed listening to the views of our OSG members because of ill-informed individuals on social media who clearly do not understand the history of this union in relation to balloting of our members.

The POA is the only recognised trade union that represents the OSG rank, no other organisation is recognised by HMPPS for that purpose. Please ignore outside noise from social media, do not be distracted as the important views are the views of the OSG membership. If you need advice or guidance before you place your vote, please speak to your POA local branch committee who are conducting the ballot on your behalf. Make sure you have a say in your future and join the POA as the only recognised trade union. I would also urge all OSGs to become active in their local branches as your views are as important and relevant as any other POA member. There is no rank in the POA everyone has an equal voice.

The ballot closes on the 13th December 2021 make sure your vote is cast in good time. Take time to look at the POA website as the National Chairman Mark Fairhurst has done various short videos addressing the OSG ballot.

Make sure your vote counts. Your Union your choice.r

Please promulgate this Circular to all our OSG members.


Yours sincerely


General Secretary

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.