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Court rules in favour of POA

London (United Kingdom), 08.05.2007

Wednesday 9 May 2007

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For the second time this year, disputes between the UK Prison Service and the Prison Officers’ Association have been battled out in court.

The UK government accused the POA of threatening and intimidating their members by sending out circulars about the Contract Supplementary Hours (CSH). The POA has lost its right to execute industrial actions in 1993 and its members have no means at all to express their dissatisfaction with working conditions, payments etc. The rights were returned in 1994 but with restrictions. Compensatory measures for these limited worker’s rights such as an independent Pay Review Body were promised by the UK government, however, so far these have been absolutely unacceptable.

The fact that the UK government/Prison Service uses the court as an instrument in this matter is very worrying. The judge confirmed this by stating that disputes relating to industrial actions and the treatment of workers must be discussed and solved at the negotiation table, not in court. For the POA this meant victory, although a bitter one.

The POA now plans to withdraw from the Joint Industrial relations Procedural Agreement (JIRPA) which was signed in 2004.

EUROFEDOP was present in London to express the support coming from Europe. An action plan is currently being drafted in which the priority lies in informing Members of European Parliament and the European Commission about the violation of human rights that takes place in the UK. Throughout the European Union, we have to make clear that trade union rights are not self-evident. EUROFEDOP fully supports the POA in its campaign to regain full trade union rights.

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