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The OSG Consultative ballot concluded on the 13th December 2021 and the Scrutineer and Teller attended Cronin House on 14th December 2021 to conduct the count and verify the ballot.
On the 15th December 2021 the NEC had its normal monthly meeting and were informed of the outcome of the ballot. It was an overwhelming endorsement of industrial action up to and including strike action with those voting indicating by 90 per cent that view. The NEC will do an analysis branch by branch of the turnout, but early indications are that a significant amount of branches would or could if it went to a formal statutory ballot reach the threshold for action.
The NEC fully debated the outcome and wish to place on record our gratitude to branch officials who conducted the ballot locally and to the OSG members that voted.
The POA are a responsible trade union, and we recognise that the Omicron Variant in our communities and prisons are a major challenge and particularly within our prisons we are committed on making our workplaces safe for all who work in them and indeed those prisoners that we care for. That must be our priority whilst this variant is such a threat and HMPPS are fully aware of our continued commitment as a trade union to working in partnership to maintain safety and preserve life.
The NEC have determined that we will not therefore rush into a Statutory ballot, and it will be put on hold until discussions take place in the New Year with the Secretary of State for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Dominic Raab and Prisons Minister Vicky Atkins MP who have both committed to meet the National Chairman and myself on such issues as recruitment and retention, pay and pensions and other matters affecting our members.
At those meetings we will pursue our annual conference policy which calls on the NEC to pursue collective bargaining for OSGs on pay and terms and conditions and take them out the remit of the pay review body. The pay review body was a compensatory mechanism supposedly for not having the right to strike but there is an anomaly in that as OSGs do have the right to strike and therefore in our view should have collective bargaining on pay and terms of conditions. The NEC will continue to keep the membership updated on this extremely important issue and if talks fail to find a solution on pay going forward for OSGs, then the NEC will consider whether to enact the statutory ballot for action by OSGs.
Once again, we thank our OSG members and will keep you all updated on any progress that is made when we meet with Ministers.
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.