Union betrayed by New Labour

POA press release January 7th 2008 

Leaders of the POA have reacted angrily to the statement made by the Rt. Hon. Minister for State Jack Straw to reintroduce legislation that will criminalise its members for taking industrial action.

Mr Straw said that he was reluctantly putting in place safeguards to ensure the safety of prisons and the public following the decision of the POA to withdraw from the JIRPA in May this year, an agreement which prevented Prison Officers from disrupting the Prison Service.

In effect New Labour are reintroducing anti trades union legislation, legislation they vehemently opposed when in opposition and legislation they PROMISED to repeal to the POA leadership.

Colin Moses National Chairman of the POA said,

“This is a sad day for the Trades Union movement. Workers are being blackmailed to sign away their rights by a Labour Government. A Government which has broken promise after promise to this union and a Government that has forgotten its roots. This union has had two agreements and both have failed not because of the workers or this union but because of the mismanagement of those agreements by the employer supported by the Government. When this anti trade union legislation was introduced, compensatory measures had to be put in place. Unfortunately, those measures have failed the workers of the Prison Service and we now need to have our rights as workers restored. Jack said, what new money is available for 2009, what about 2007 and 2008. Are we as public sector workers to be treated as second class citizens, used as bargaining chips to manage the economy and of course used as punch bags by those we look after. This union is owed 6 million pounds in TOIL, it is owed pay from 2001 and 2007 and it deserves to be treated fairly and decently. Promises and Platitudes do nothing for the workers of this Country and nothing for my members”.

Brian Caton General Secretary of the POA said,

“Nothing surprises me with the New Labour party. The Government may believe that they can bully and threaten my members but they cannot. If they believe that threatening POA members with imprisonment is a step forward for industrial relations they are sadly wrong. This union like every union should be treated with respect and trust. The POA only react when no one listens, when the employer and government resort to the Courts to manage the Service and of course when promises are broken. We will be calling all public sector workers to unite against this reserved legislation, maybe the Government have underestimated the support of the worker and fallout that will arise if they continue to attack the Trades Union movement.