Public service unions in the UK welcomed the decision by the Ministry of Justice on 16 May to return 80% of privatised probation services in England and Wales to public sector ownership and control.
May. 21, 2019
Mar. 27, 2019 Prison unions, ACAIP, FeSP-UGT and FSC-CCOO, organised lunchtime protests outside every prison service establishment on 20 March. They were reacting to the knife attack on a member of staff at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid. The unions argue that prison service management is failing to take adequate action to tackle increasing violence across the service, noting that the prison service has been condemned by the Central Labour Inspectorate for failing to properly apply occupational health legislation.
Feb. 28, 2019 The unions organising in the prisons sector - FSC-CCOO, ACAIP, FeSP-UGT and CSIF - continue to press the government to honour its original commitment to increase funding to the service. The unions organised a demonstration outside the General Directorate of Public Services on 18 February. They are particularly angry that the government withdrew its offer of EUR 123 million to cover pay rises for the 23000 workers in the sector over the period 2019-2021.
Nov. 22, 2018 Prison sector unions have called on the government to immediately restart negotiations over pay following the latest of six days of strike action which have had strong nationwide support from prison workers. The unions began the action following the new socialist-led government's withdrawal of funding for a pay increase. The unions now want to see bargaining restart and have been critical of the authorities for aggressive tactics in the policing of pickets and demonstrations around the country.
Nov. 08, 2018 The trade unions representing prison workers, including EPSU affiliates ACAIP-USO, FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT, are continuing their strike action over pay despite attempts by the prison service to get the action declared illegal. The unions reported massive support for the first two days of strike action on 25-26 October. Further action had already been planned for 10-13 November but the unions had to counter the legal challenge by the employers and so have agreed that the next four days of action will run from 17-20 November.
Oct. 24, 2018 EPSU's affiliates in the prison services - FSC-CCOO, FeSP-UGT and ACAIP-USO - began their planned six-day strike campaign on 24 October. The unions are calling on the government to abide by its commitment to fund pay increases in the sector that are needed to deal urgently with staff shortages and to address the question of major pay disparities in different institutions. The strike action follows a long period of campaigning, lobbying and negotiating and the unions have agreed that further strikes will take place on 26 October with a further four days in November (6, 8 13 and 15).
Oct. 10, 2018 Prison sector unions are planning a series of 24-hour strikes beginning on 24 October in protest at the withdrawal of a pay offer by the prison service. The unions have been campaigning together for several years to secure improved pay as a key measure to tackle staff shortages in the sector. Following the installation of a new government, the prison service offered to increase the prison pay bill by EUR 122.6 million over the next three years. The unions were angry and astonished when, at a meeting on 25 September, the head of the prison service announced that the offer was withdrawn on the basis that it hadn't been authorised by the government. The unions have called for an urgent meeting with the Minister of the Interior and they will begin their actions with a protest outside the Ministry on 17 October.
Sep. 14, 2018 The POA prison staff union's call for action by its members on 14 September was widely supported across the country. The union decided on the action following the latest revelations of violence against staff at Bedford prison in south east England which received an "urgent notification" from the Chief Inspector of Prisons who warned of the potential for a complete breakdown in order at the institution. The notification requires a response from the government. The POA has been demanding national action to reduce overcrowding and tackle violence and says that government imposed cuts are behind the serious deterioration in the prison service.
Sep. 13, 2018 The three main unions in the prisons sector, FSC-CCOO, FeSP-UGT and ACAIP-USO, are continuing their protests over pay, jobs and working conditions with three demonstrations planned for 14, 24 and 29 September. The unions have called on the government to honour the commitments it made when in opposition and increase resources for the prisons service. The unions emphasise that responsibilities and workloads have increased but staffing hasn't and the sector has 3400 vacant posts. Prison workers are facing considerable pressures to ensure safety in their institutions and face an increasing number of physical assaults. The unions also want the government to address the problem of pay discrepancies across the system where workers in different prisons have different rates of pay despite doing the same job.
Aug. 23, 2018
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.
Aug. 01, 2018 Prison workers' unions have organised half-hour protests across the prisons service on 2 August as part of their long-running campaign to get action to tackle violence against staff. With 934 violent assaults registered in 2015 and 2016, the unions say that urgent action is required and they want the new government to recognise the problem and to negotiate an agreement to address it. Inadequate staffing levels are a major element and the unions say the recent offer of additional employment is inadequate to deal with the estimated 3400 vacancies or the ageing of the workforce. However, the unions also point to other challenges such as the need to tackle mental health problems in prisons.
Jun. 29, 2018 The CSC/ACV and CGSP/ACOD unions representing prison workers have taken strike action in protest at government plans to legislate on limiting their right to strike. EPSU sent a solidarity message to the unions highlighting the deteriorating conditions and overcrowding in prisons across the country and the importance of having the right to strike to highlight the need for urgent action to address these problems and reverse the impact of austerity. Rather than attack trade union rights, EPSU argues that the federal government should open negotiations to tackle the critical situation facing the prison service.
Jun. 07, 2018 Trade unions in the prisons sector in Spain - CCOO, UGT and Acaip-Uso - have been running a major campaign of mobilisation to put pressure on prison service management to negotiate to tackle major problems related to pay, understaffing, an ageing workforce and increased violence. However, some of their recent peaceful protests have been broken up by the police even causing injuries, in some cases serious, to union activists (see epsucob@NEWS 11). In a presentation to EPSU's Quality Employment conference, Jose Maria Lopez of CCOO, outlined the situation facing prison service workers, arguing that the government was allowing a managed decline with a view to privatising or outsourcing various parts of the service. The conference adopted a statement of support for the three Spanish unions and their current campaign.
Jun. 07, 2018 Many prison workers across Europe are facing longstanding problems of understaffing, overcrowding and, as a result, significantly increased risks of violence. These were common to three country case studies carried out for EPSU by researchers at the HIVA research unit at Leuven University. In the UK, Italy and Greece the situation of prison workers had deteriorated in recent years with the prison service in Greece in particular having faced the deep cuts to funding and workers' pay imposed across the whole of the public sector. While Sweden presented a contrasting case study, the evidence was that the system was being put under pressure as new public management methods were leading to more administrative work for staff and less direct contact with inmates. The approach to the penal system was also changing with a shift to a harsher societal climate looking more to punishment than rehabilitation of prisoners. Further work would be carried out on the case studies in response to comments from EPSU affiliates. Nadja Salson responded to the debate and indicated the key issues to be addressed by the EPSU prison network.