Strike: Prison officers across Britain took the government by surprise today by staging a morning mass walkout against an assault on their retirement rights.
Staff left jails at 7am in a show of resistance against plans to force them to work to 68 before they can retire from the service.
The Prison Officers Association hailed the protests this morning as a major success.
Ministry of Justice officials branded the walkout illegal and threatened to seek an injunction to compel staff to return to work.
Prison staff, the police and armed forces are barred from engaging in strike action.
POA officials stressed that the demonstration was against the government, not management.
The union’s general secretary Steve Gillan said: “The POA has submitted a case to government to support our view that it is unrealistic for prison officers to be automatically linked to the state pension age, which will ultimately rise to 68 years of age.
“Unfortunately it has fallen on deaf ears and prison officers have no other option but to protest to gain public attention.”
He added: “We kept the action under wraps.
“What we wanted to do was have minimum cover in prisons because we didn’t want to endanger the health and safety of prisoners unlike the government who are endangering the safety of our members by making them work until 68.
“We call on the government to get back round the table with the POA.”
Civil Service union PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka sent a message of solidarity to “the brave members of the POA who have defied draconian laws that ban them from taking industrial action.”