Prison workers set to strike
PRISON workers in Suffolk will join a 48-hour national strike today following a dispute over pay.Maintenance staff at Hollesley Bay, Highpoint and Edmunds Hill prisons will be protesting against a minimal rise in their annual pay.
PRISON workers in Suffolk will join a 48-hour national strike today following a dispute over pay.
Maintenance staff at Hollesley Bay, Highpoint and Edmunds Hill prisons will be protesting against a minimal rise in their annual pay.
Around 4,000 plumbers, electricians, chefs and farm workers from four different trade unions will be taking part in a national strike today and tomorrow.
It is the latest in a spate of industrial disputes which have affected various industries over the past few months including dockers, civil servants, airport staff, rail workers and firefighters.
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Today's action has been organised to express prison workers' anger at a one per cent pay rise imposed in 2003.
Despite numerous attempts at negotiation, and a strike on May 28 this year, the pay rise remains unchanged.
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Workers from many different unions, including Amicus, the Transport and General Worker's Union, GMB and UCATT, will be taking part.
John Allot, national secretary for Amicus, said: "These are the workers that make sure the prison operates on a day to day basis.
"They do a lot of work with the prisoners and as well as being skilled in their particular trade they are also trained in how to deal with things like hostage situations and suicide bids.
"If the prison officers had been given a one per cent increase as well then, although it would still be low, there might not be the dissatisfaction there is now."
Prison officers received a 2.8% pay rise for 2003.
Mr Allot continued: "This strike is a culmination of lots of issues and it is the only option we have."
The strike on May 28 was the first within the prison service for 25 years.
Peter Medhurst, T&G regional industrial organiser and chair of the Prison Service joint industrial council, said: "Members are taking further action in this dispute to bring home to prison service employers that they feel undervalued.
"The one per cent pay rise is actually a pay cut for workers who are not well paid to start with.
"This strike is borne out of frustration that the one per cent does not recognise their issues."
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "The offer made for industrial staff resulted in a pay increase of 4% for around half of their members.
"The other half received a 3% increase, although some of this is non-consolidated. Inflation currently stands at 2.6%.
"Governors were informed that strike action was planned and that they should seek to examine and prepare their contingency plans in advance of action being taken.
"They were advised that possible issues of high risk should be identified."