12 Days Remaining

Friday 23rd
posted by Will Stone in Britain

PRISON officers “overwhelmingly” rejected a pay and pensions deal yesterday that had been endorsed by union leaders.

The package included a provision allowing guards to continue retiring at 65 when the state pension age rises to 68.

But Prison Officers Association (POA) members rejected the offer by 65.7 per cent to 33.7, with 0.6 spoiling their ballots.

POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: “I urge the government not to ignore the views of our members.”

The offer included consolidated pay rises of between 0.5 and 1 per cent for each of the next three years, on top of the usual performance-related increases.

They also stood to receive a “recognition and retention” package totalling £1,000.

But the prisons system went into meltdown as details of the offer came out, with thousands of staff walking out in protest over health and safety concerns.

The crisis came to a head last week when a riot erupted at HMP Birmingham, the third serious disturbance in less than two months.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed that proposals on reform, pay and pensions, which were endorsed by the POA leadership, have not been accepted.

“Progress has been made on health and safety grounds and we will continue to hold talks with the POA. The Justice Secretary intends to meet with the leadership in the new year.

“As the Justice Secretary has made clear, she has huge respect for prison officers and is committed to making prisons places of safety and reform.”

The Birmingham prison riot, which spread across four wings, caused more than £2 million in damage as inmates set stairwells on fire and destroyed paper records.