Pay Rise For Prison Officers In Bid To Tackle Jail Safety Crisis

strike-wanno

Prison officers at 31 jails in London and south-east England are in line for pay rises of up to £5,000, under a £12m package announced by the government.

The increase means new starters could receive up to £29,500 a year.

Ministers said they wanted to attract the “best talent”. Prisons with recruitment issues are being targeted.

Jails have been hit by staff strikes and rising violence in recent months. A union welcomed the rise but said ministers were “papering over cracks”.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) added that the government was dealing with “crisis management on a daily basis”.

The pay increase applies to “band 3” staff, who make up the majority of front-line officers.

Falling numbers

Prisons in London and the south-east, including Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville, Belmarsh and Whitemoor, were chosen as they find it harder to recruit.workforce

The Ministry of Justice said “thousands” of employees would benefit. The £12m package is an attempt to boost falling prison officer numbers.

On Thursday, it was revealed that, in 2016, the number of front-line staff in England and Wales fell by 347 (1.9%) to 17,888.

The leaving rate was almost 9% – almost double the level of four years earlier.

‘Deathly silence’

Steve Gillan, the general secretary of the POA, said it had been told about the increase on Tuesday, and that “not a lot of thought” had gone into the rise.

“We welcome any new money,” he said, “but we’re a national service and this only applies to 31 prisons [out of more than 100 in England and Wales].

“It doesn’t apply to the operational support grades (OSG’s), so the lowest-paid people in the service are getting nothing.

“We pointed that out and there was a deathly silence.”

Mr Gillan also said that pay was not the only concern of his members.

“The violence in prisons is out of control,” he said. “The prisoners are in control, not the staff.”ponumbers

In November a government White Paper announced an extra 2,500 prison officers would be in place by the end of 2018.

That was on top of an extra 400 officers, to be in place by March this year.

‘Challenging job’

The Ministry of Justice said it was “on track” to meet that target, with 389 job offers made to new recruits.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said: “Prison officers do a challenging and demanding job day in and day out.

“I want front-line staff to know that their work, experience and loyal service is valued.

“We also want to attract the best new talent into the service, ensuring we recruit and retain the leaders of the future.”

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook, the definitive annual guide to prisons in England and Wales, called the rise ‘a welcome step in the right direction’,

Mr Leech said: “An extra £12 million is a significant amount to have prised out of the Treasury – but it equates after tax to less than an extra £80 a week for those officers in the most difficult jails.

“The fact that it doesn’t apply to OSG’s is regrettable, they do not have main prisoner facing roles that is true, but it hardly makes for a cohesive workforce.

“It is unclear whether the extra money will be enough to make the most hard-pressed prison officers remain in the job, but it is a welcome step in the right direction.”

The 31 prisons affected are: Aylesbury, Bedford, Bullingdon, Coldingley, Cookham Wood, Downview, Elmley, Feltham, Grendon, High Down, Highpoint, Huntercombe, Medway, Send, Stanford Hill, Swaleside, The Mount, Woodhill, Brixton, Belmarsh, Isis, Pentonville, Rochester, Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs, Erlestoke, Lewes, Whitemoor, Chelmsford, Guys Marsh and Littlehey.

 

 

POA Former General Secretary Predicts ‘Severe Disruption’ Ahead for Prisons

briancatonThe former General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association (POA) has predicted that prison officers are on course for more severe prison protests.

Brian Caton, who retired as General Secretary in 2012, told Converse that he believes the membership of his former union will reject the improved offer made by the Ministry of Justice last week

Low pay and allowing prison officers to retire at 65, down from the previous age of 68, is at the centre of a continuing dissatisfaction.

Mr Caton told Converse: “In my opinion the membership will reject this offer, the retirement age should be 60 – but the problem is this parliament is the worse since the second world war.”

“I have a feeling that most frontline staff and many inmates have had enough of the failures of the prison system and it’s dangers, so we are probably heading towards severe disruption.”

This comes after the Converse exclusive that suggested there is a real fear among prison officers leaders that their membership are set to reject the pay and conditions offer made to them this week by the Ministry of Justice, sources have told Converse.

The wide-ranging offer, accepted by the Prison Officers’ Association, gives prison officers a reduction in pension age to 65, the only public body to secure such a deal. The ability to retire at 65, at nil cost to the prison officer concerned, amounts to an investment of £12 million a year.

The offer also includes a new industrial relations procedural agreement, which means independent binding arbitration, and which should see a reduction, if not an end, to walk-out protests that we have seen recently.

In addition prison officers will be paid a £1000 ‘retention bonus’ in March 2017 and March 2018.

However one source close to the POA leadership, told Converse: “There is a very real fear that members will reject the offer because the pay rise is rubbish, due to the Government pay cap, this has been an ongoing negotiation for 18 months and is nothing to do with the recent protest action.”

The fear that prison officers will reject the offer made by Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, is certain to shake the Ministry of Justice, who are desperate to see stability return to a prison system that is said by a variety of experts to be ‘in meltdown’.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse said: “I hope prison officers do accept the agreement, its a genuine attempt by the Secretary of State to listen and respond to their very real concerns – but the elephant in the room is prison officer pay and this offer doesn’t, and in fact couldn’t, address that at all.

“Government-wide policy on capping public sector pay means that solving the prison officers’ long-standing complaint about low pay is not something in the gift of Liz Truss.”

And that is the nub of the problem, and one that is causing prison officer’s leaders to fear rejection of what is now on the table – and which they accepted and recommended to their members.

Mr Leech said: “The reality is that prison officers do have a legitimate complaint about their pay, I wouldn’t do their job for £100,000 a year, so twenty-odd grand doesn’t even come close to what they deserve for what they do.

“But lifting the Government pay cap on public sector pay for prison officers, which is what would need to happen to improve their pay rates, would lead to a flood of protests from other public sector bodies, rightly perhaps demanding the same relaxation of the rules – and I can’t see the Government allowing that.

“The problem for prison officers is that they know if they accept this offer then any discussions about pay are then put on the back burner for a couple of years – their dilemma therefore is do they stand and fight their ‘pay corner’ now, and risk what is currently on offer, or do they accept that in reality the current offer is about the best offer they are going to get?”

“Only time will tell.”

The result of the prison officers ballot is due in the next week.

‘Real Fear’ Prison Officers Are About To Reject The MOJ Pay & Conditions Offer

There is a real fear among prison officers leaders that their membership are set to reject the pay and conditions offer made to them this week by the Ministry of Justice, sources have told Converse.

The wide-ranging offer, accepted by the Prison Officers’ Association, gives prison officers a reduction in pension age to 65, the only public body to secure such a deal. The ability to retire at 65, at nil cost to the prison officer concerned, amounts to an investment of £12 million a year.

The offer also includes a new industrial relations procedural agreement, which means independent binding arbitration, and which should see a reduction, if not an end, to walk-out protests that we have seen recently.

In addition prison officers will be paid a £1000 ‘retention bonus’ in March 2017 and March 2018.

However one source close to the POA leadership, told Converse: “There is a very real fear that members will reject the offer because the pay rise is rubbish, due to the Government pay cap, this has been an ongoing negotiation for 18 months and is nothing to do with the recent protest action.”

The fear that prison officers will reject the offer made by Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, is certain to shake the Ministry of Justice, who are desperate to see stability return to a prison system that is said by a variety of experts to be ‘in meltdown’.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse said: “I hope prison officers do accept the agreement, its a genuine attempt by the Secretary of State to listen and respond to their very real concerns – but the elephant in the room is prison officer pay and this offer doesn’t, and in fact couldn’t, address that at all.

“Government-wide policy on capping public sector pay means that solving the prison officers’ long-standing complaint about low pay is not something in the gift of Liz Truss.”

And that is the nub of the problem, and one that is causing prison officer’s leaders to fear rejection of what is now on the table – and which they accepted and recommended to their members.

Mr Leech said: “The reality is that prison officers do have a legitimate complaint about their pay, I wouldn’t do their job for £100,000 a year, so twenty-odd grand doesn’t even come close to what they deserve for what they do.

“But lifting the Government pay cap on public sector pay for prison officers, which is what would need to happen to improve their pay rates, would lead to a flood of protests from other public sector bodies, rightly perhaps demanding the same relaxation of the rules – and I can’t see the Government allowing that.

“The problem for prison officers is that they know if they accept this offer then any discussions about pay are then put on the back burner for a couple of years – their dilemma therefore is do they stand and fight their ‘pay corner’ now, and risk what is currently on offer, or do they accept that in reality the current offer is about the best offer they are going to get?”

“Only time will tell.”

The result of the prison officers ballot is due in the next week.

Prison Officers Association – 2015 is “one of the worst years in the recorded history of prisons.”

Will we soon see this again?
Will we soon see this again?

Prison officers’ leaders have expressed “outrage” over a 0% pay offer for most prison staff in England and Wales – with one senior member of the Prison Officers Association (POA) telling the national prisons newspaper Converse that it was “one of the worst years in the recorded history of prisons.”

PJ McParlin, the POA National Chairman, told Converse: “In one of the worst years in recorded history in prisons for staff and prisoners, these incompetents want to rub our noses in it.

“As you know we are held hostage by the legislation with the Pay Review Body as a supposedly compensatory mechanism.

“Yet with a four per cent consolidated plus one per cent non consolidated for managers – you can imagine the reaction.”

The POA said its executive will hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss its next move, warning it was ruling nothing out in its response.

The General Secretary of the POA, Steve Gillan told prisons newspaper Converse that the meeting was to urgently discuss the whole report “and to determine if there are potential legal challenges”.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse said: “I’ve long criticised the POA for taking strike action but when they are hit with an effective pay cut like this, by a supposedly independent pay body that seems to be in cahoots with the Government, and with literally no where to go to record their protests, you have to ask yourself could they really be blamed for walking out?”

The union submitted a claim for a 5% rise to make up for pay standing still in most years since the coalition came to power, but said a pay review body had decided that four out of five prison officers will receive no increase.

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA, told the Press Association: “It is absolutely shocking that prison officers are being treated like this.

“We were given a pay review body as compensation for losing the right to strike – but it is just a puppet of the Government and we have absolutely no confidence in them.”

Mr Gillan pointed out that health workers had received a pay rise after taking industrial action.

The union said morale was at an all-time low in the Prison Service.

Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said: “Staff should be in no doubt how highly I value the hard work that they put in every single day. That is why we have introduced major organisational changes that have saved taxpayers money and ultimately ensured key jobs have stayed in the public sector.

“Our reforms have helped to save £300 million per year from 2015-16 – protecting existing jobs and creating new ones by ensuring that HMPS will run the new prison in North Wales.

“The independent Prison Service Pay Review Body has recognised that significant pay reform is an important part of delivering these savings and we have accepted the recommendations in full.”