Prison staff on the picket lines

STAFF at prisons across the region have manned the picket lines as two days of strike action began against a pay offer branded a “kick in the teeth” by a union.

STAFF at prisons across the region have manned the picket lines as two days of strike action began against a pay offer branded a “kick in the teeth” by a union.

Administrative workers and instructional staff from HMP Blundeston, Highpoint and Edmunds Hill say they have been forced away from their desks by bosses who have refused to negotiate a fair settlement.

The current action may not be the last time members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) take to the picket lines. Officials warned that, if no deal is reached soon, the dispute may turn into a long campaign.

“Hopefully these two days will bring this situation to some kind of conclusion,” said Jim Flower, a PCS member, with pickets outside Edmunds Hill.


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“But, depending on whether our management are prepared to negotiate on our pay settlement, this may also turn into a long campaign.

“The offer at the moment is unacceptable, and has also been imposed upon us. “It is supposed to cover an increase in the cost of living, but we are being offered one per cent, which is a kick in the teeth for everyone concerned.

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“Unfortunately, the Prison Service is refusing to negotiate and management have been evasive. It is pretty insulting considering the hard work everyone has put in over the past 18 months.

“Obviously no-one wants to go on strike, but members feel very strongly about this.”

But a spokesman for the Prison Service said the pay offer represented a “significant increase” to most staff, adding that contingency plans had been put in place to minimise the affect of the strike action.

She said: “The Prison Service pay offer at PCS non-management grade represents a significant increase to most staff. Specifically, approximately 80 per cent of staff covered by the offer will receive earnings gross of at least 4 per cent.

“Governors have reviewed contingency plans to deal with the consequences of staff taking strike action, in terms of minimising any disruption to prisons and other elements of the criminal justice system.

“The Prison Service, in accordance with other Government departments, has extensive contingency plans to provide as normal service as possible,” she added.

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