The TUS met with the employer for the first outline meeting of 2022 pay talks earlier this month. At the forefront of the initial discussions was the Scottish government pay policy which has been published in December 2021. The policy is publicly available for anyone who has not already seen it. At this meeting all trade unions voiced their disappointment at the policy and made clear that we anticipate widespread frustration at the very obvious gap between the policy limits and the real cost of living increases being faced by people this year. We further indicated that the gains made from the last 3-year deal in terms of partial restoration, are likely to be seriously undermined by the limited scope of this year’s pay policy.

The next step for us is to meet with the wider TUS and submit our joint pay claim for 2022 and then enter pay discussions with the employer to see what can be achieved. All members of the TUS made the employer aware that they will be balloting their membership on any final offer that is tabled. We will continue to keep you updated on any process.

In terms of the new pay structure discussions which formed part of the previous pay deal, we are still seeking a viable working model that will work for all parties concerned.

The previous pay deal was one that applied to all the trade unions, not just the POA. The solution therefore has to meet the aspirations of us all. It also has to satisfy the employer that we are not introducing a structure that is of itself, open to legal challenge or in any way in breach of legislation e.g. equal pay legislation.

We are in dialogue with other organisations at the moment who we hope may have the basis at least, of a working model that should allow us to table that as a meaningful discussion option. We will again, keep you informed on any progress.

Local COVID RAG tool

Many of you will know that local coronavirus response groups (LCRGs) to which POAS have a seat are meeting on regular occasions to assess the impact COVID is having within your establishments. There have been some enquiries made from members as to why there isn’t national position to follow. We feel it’s important that LBCs are empowered to make decisions that directly impact their membership. There are a couple of good examples where this is working and supports our position on this. We have an establishment who stopped their visits due to the risk of transmission being high within their community and another establishment has remained on their COVID roster due to the chronic staffing levels they are witnessing. If we had a national position these local decisions could not be made without having wider impacts throughout the SPS estate. We will continue to support the position of empowering LBCs and will be available should they require our support or input.  

Throughcare Support Officers (TSO)

At a recent meeting with a sub-group set up by SPS the TSO role was discussed, and our views were sought. It appears that the Scottish Government has decided to allocate funding to the third sector to carry out the role of throughcare support in some capacity therefore the role of SPS TSOs might take a slight change. At the meeting we stated our position that we require the TSO role to return as it was agreed only to pause it to support the staffing crisis the SPS faced at that time, yes there might be a different way of working however the role must return. The sub-group will be presenting their work which has included our position to the executive management group of the SPS at the end of February for discussion, so we expect early to mid-March to hold further discussions around this issue.


Locally you may be feeling the pressure of having to cover the contractual escorts that GEOAmey are unable to fulfil. Whilst this shouldn’t be allowed to happen, it does, and it falls on the SPS to pick these escorts up. Naturally staff across establishments are taken from post to cover these escorts therefore we remind everyone of the emergency escorts SOP that allows for these posts (or the escort) to be covered by ex-gratia, and yes, we are aware that the uptake in ex-gratia is proven difficult however, that shouldn’t stop this SOP being enacted and to at least try and backfill these shortages. If the posts don’t get covered then we would remind everyone to follow the locally agreed staff shortage protocol to keep everyone safe.

There is hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel with the GEOAmey staff shortages as they have recently started 35 new staff with a further 44 planned next week.

COVID testing for staff

All SPS sites have the facility for staff testing to take place. Whilst it is entirely voluntary, we would again encourage as many of you to take up this resource. These tests are important to keep yourselves, your families, colleagues, and those in our care safe. Information on how to enrol is on the SPS SharePoint site.

COVID vaccines and Boosters

Like with the COVID testing, it is entirely voluntary however we would encourage all our membership to be fully vaccinated to help protect you against COVID symptoms should you test positive. As you are aware being fully vaccinated also allows you to exit isolation earlier should you be classed as a close contact.

SNC Reps to Establishments

SNC reps are continuing to travel to branches for essential business. Feedback we are receiving from the membership around access to national officials is very positive and we will continue to visit the establishments frequently. 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.

The State Hospital Carstairs

The following update has been provided by the local branch committee:

  • Currently all meetings have been cancelled until end of January
  • Command Structure stood up until end of January
  • Short Live Working Groups established to look at – Supplementary staffing/staff Bank
  • Issue with Annual Leave Sheet being produced to staff now sorted and sent out to all Ward Nursing Staff
  • Branch Committee and Members meetings cancelled in January but hopeful to have these in February

Psychoactive Substances

The photocopying of Prisoners mail has begun and thanks to the five branches who responded we can confidently say there is a positive impact within establishments. At the beginning of this we said that this wouldn’t be perfect, and that continual work will be required to streamline how this is done however the hard work done by everyone to get to this stage is impressive and we need to continue the hard work to shut the channels of PS entering the establishments down. We always knew that this change, whilst making prisons safer for those working and living there would have a negative impact with certain sectors and this has proven correct and in an “Open Letter expressing concern and objection to new powers to photocopy all prisoner mail” sent to Scottish Government signed by 35 academics across universities shows how difficult it was to get to this stage and how difficult it will be building on this however we won’t stop pushing for more control on items coming into establishments to make establishments safer again. As the ones who are implementing this process, we welcome any views as to how it can be made better. 

Union Learning

All candidates have completed the Gym Instructors course and with a completion of a bit of paperwork that brings a close to the latest funding project. We would like to praise the candidates on this course for completing it as from the beginning there have been many frustrations aimed at the learning provider. We have received a lot of feedback that we will discuss with the provider at a soon to be arranged meeting.

POA website

We continue to encourage you to sign up to and access the POA website. There you will find out all union updates and in the members section you can access SNC meeting minutes and offers that are available to the membership. The address is


On the 1st of April this year all employees will by default be placed into the Alpha pension scheme. Following our legal challenge, those who were previously in the classic scheme will have the choice what pension scheme they wish to apply to the last 7 years (2015 to 2022). This choice will be made when you chose to retire.

There is an alternative, you can choose to switch to what is known as the partnership pension the details of which can be found on the MyCSP website – civil service pensions. It is advisable that members take the time to read this so they can make an informed decision as to what scheme best suits their needs. This may be particularly interesting to some older members. This is purely for information purposes alone and should not in any way be taken as advice or signposting by the POA on this issue. Anyone who has questions or queries around this should always seek independent financial advice from someone qualified to provide it.

The fight to get the pension age reduced goes on as a national issue. 

The POA Scotland Group Life Scheme

We would like to remind you all that as you are a member of the POA you can benefit from being a member of the above Group life assurance scheme. The cost of the scheme is £15.85 and is deducted from your pay and the policy is to the value of £59,000 which can be split with a spouse (£47,000 against the member and £12,000 against the named person) there is also a £6,000 automatic “Children’s Benefit” which pays out £6,000 for children aged between 30 days and 18 years old. It should be noted that this policy pays out for ANY cause of death. Sadly, we have lost many colleagues and the difference this policy makes to those left behind, whilst it doesn’t mend the pain it helps them plan for their future. Should you wish to get an application form, please contact your Local Branch Committee who will issue you with it. 



On Behalf of the 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.