SCOTLAND: GENERAL UPDATE

As mentioned in our last general update we are keen to continue this communication source, so we hope the following is helpful.

SNC Election

We are delighted to confirm Mark Meikle has received the necessary branch nominations and will take up post on the SNC.  We welcome Mark, who has many years’ experience on the HMP Edinburgh LBC and his knowledge and experience will be an asset to us all.

Control & Restraint

SPS are continuing looking to re-introduce contact training which at this time we are opposed to for the simple reason, we do not believe it is safe to carry this out yet.  As you can imagine this is a difficult position to make as we fully understand that some folk may be losing the skill set and confidence in C&R without the refresher training however, we believe continuing to oppose the training at this time is the correct thing to do.  Of the constituent 3 unions within SPS 2 of us take this position and we have backed up our stance by contacting LBC’s who fully support us in this course of action.  We have written to the employer with this position 

Car Park Attacks

As previously communicated with yourselves, TUS have met with SPS twice now in relation to the cowardly attacks on staff’s vehicles.  We can assure you SPS are taking this matter seriously and along with our concerns have their own.  On the back of discussions all SPS sites conducted a car park risk assessment with these outcomes forming a plan of how to better secure the car parks.  Such changes include site surveys with the CCTV provider, ADT to ensure better camera and lightning coverage are achieved, this will include new CCTV cameras being erected where required.  There will also be increased patrols from both SPS staff and Police Scotland.  Both we and SPS are determined to make the car parks a safe place to park your vehicle when carrying out your shift.

Future Steps

Over the course of the pandemic, the way in which tasks have been carried out in Prisons have changed and feedback we have received from visiting establishments is that our membership would like to see certain things remain as there has been a feeling of “old school” control of the Prison regime has been regained whilst still giving Prisoners their entitlements.  Members have mentioned that the way regimes are, whilst busy, they feel safer at work and this is confirmed with a reduction of staff assaults and whilst one is too many, it is an encouraging decrease and one we would like to build on. 

Attendance Patterns

At the SNC meeting on 28th April, we agreed to write to SPS and inform them of the need for immediate discussions to put meaningful plans in place to get all staff to return to Pre COVID attendance patterns.  This falls in line with the SPS beginning to open more work sheds now the restriction level has been reduced so we believe this is a reasonable time to enter these discussions again.

PFTA Updates

We still have 4 PFTAs ongoing. These are-Emergency escorts SOP, Early courts funding, working practices to enable Prisoners going to courts and Dog Handlers allowance.  We can offer an update on the following:

Dog Handlers – Following on from the initial PFTA meeting no agreement has been met in relation to the allowance therefore the matter will progress to ACAS mediation where both ourselves and SPS will lay out our case to an independent arbitrator.  We will keep you posted on the outcome.

Emergency escorts SOP - A meeting took place and SPS have agreed to look at the elements that caused the issue and SPS are going to look at the SOP and come back to us with an amended version to see if this resolves the issues we have. 

COVID Vaccine

By now many of you will have had your 1st, and some both, vaccines which is a step in the right direction.  You will have seen the SPS NTS that those needing to attend their vaccine whilst on shift will be afforded the time away to have this done. 

COVID testing for staff

The following sites are live for staff COVID testing:  Dumfries, Perth, Greenock, Glenochil, Kilmarnock, Cornton Vale, Grampian, Low Moss and Cornton Vale.  These will be followed by Addiewell on 10th May 21 then finally on 17th May by Barlinnie, Edinburgh, Inverness and Shotts.  Details on how to sign up to take part can be found on SPS SharePoint site.

SNC Reps to Establishments

SNC reps are continuing to travel to branches for essential business.  Should you wish to meet with us can you speak with your LBCs who will ensure we see you when we are in visiting the establishment.

Shielders

We take this opportunity to welcome back the Shielders who have been unable to attend the workplace in recent months due to COVID levels.  We would ask that you ensure an individualised RA and SSOW is carried out to ensure a safe return to the workplace.

COVID Weekly Updates

As previously communicated the SNC are represented on National Coronavirus Response Group (NCRG) and we would ask you to give your attention to the weekly updates that are produced as any decisions or updates made are communicated via this.

The State Hospital Carstairs

Our membership within Carstairs are going through a ballot process to decide whether or not to accept the 4% pay increase they were offered.  This is being done with wider NHS trade unions. 

Annual Leave

Following the issuing of Circular regarding annual leave for shielding staff, we wrote to both the SPS and our legal advisers about the rest of the staff group. Once we have response from both, we will communicate that with you. 

Independent Survey of POA members in Scotland

Attention is drawn to Circular 12/21, this is your survey to have your say on the POAS (good or bad) and we would encourage as many of you as possible to take part in this survey. 

Union Learning

We are pleased to confirm that the gym instructors’ course was successful with 11 of the 12 candidates passing the course.  Unfortunately, 1 had to withdraw however too late to be able to get a substitute to take that place.  We hope with this being successful we can obtain further funding this year to run another course.

We are still actively looking for Union Learning Reps to help facilitate future union courses for our membership and sent a branch circular out with details of how to express an interest in this role.

There was also an email sent to branch secretaries offering free Open University modules through union learning so please feel free to enrol on some of them.

POA website

Many of you will be aware that the POA undertook a massive upgrade of the website and we are sure you will agree it is looking far better than the last one.  You will also see that Scottish updates feature more prominently within the new site.  We would encourage you all to sign up to the members section where you will be able to access union benefits, including discount schemes whilst being able to see the profiles of the SNC and the working groups/establishments we are involved in.  The address is www.poauk.org.uk

We hope you found this update helpful.  Stay safe.

Regards

On behalf of POA Scotland

John Cairney

 

JOHN CAIRNEY
Scottish National Committee

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.