Staffing levels, Demographic change, Privatisation, Prisons Services
On 20 August the UK government was forced to take back control of a privatised prison in Birmingham in central England following a damning report by the prisons inspectorate. The prison had been run since 2011 by the G4S group, one of three multinationals that run 14 prisons in England.
The FNV trade union for prison staff has called for an urgent meeting with prison service management to discuss the implications of a new report on staffing, safety and treatment of inmates. The union believes that the report, "Out of Balance", by the Justice and Security Inspectorate provides further evidence of its concerns over excessive workloads and inadequately trained staff. The union now wants the prison service to discuss permanent measures to tackle these problems building on the temporary arrangements that were agreed last year by the justice department and central works council.
The three main trade unions in the prisons sector - FSC-CCOO, FeSP-UGT and ACAIP - organised a 12-hour protest outside the head office of the prison service on 11 April. Over 200 trade unionists joined the demonstration, chaining themselves together. The unions are calling for proper negotiations to resolve some major problems in the sector including: massive staff shortages with 3200 vacant posts; the ageing workforce; privatisation; increasing violence and discrepancies in pay between the same jobs in different institutions.
(January 2017) Using the latest official figures, the FSC-CCOO federation warns of the growing crisis in the prisons sector with over 2800 posts unfilled. Some prisons face higher than average shortages and the union warns of the health and safety threat posed both to prison workers and inmates. Projections also show that without urgent action a quarter of the workforce will be over 60 by 2020. The union is concerned that staff shortages will contribute to pressure to privatise some services. This critical situation also featured in a session at the EPSU collective bargaining conference in