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angry and astonished when, at a meeting on 25 September, the head of the prison service announced that the offer was withdrawn on the basis that it hadn't been authorised by the government.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.
Jun. 01, 2018 The three main prison officer unions - FSC-CCOO, FeSPUGT and ACAIP - organised a 15-minute stoppage in 84 institutions across the country on 22 May in protest at the violence used against demonstrating prison guards earlier in the month. The three unions had coordinated a series of protests across the country to call for negotiations over pay and working conditions. The demonstrations were carried out peacefully but in Morón in southern Spain police used violence to break up the protest resulting in 20 injuries, including one very serious.
May. 03, 2018 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.
Apr. 19, 2018 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.
Apr. 05, 2018 The FP CGIL public services federation is calling for urgent action to tackle increasing violence against staff as well as staff suicides in the prison service. Thirty-five staff have committed suicide over the last five years with 2250 violent incidents recorded over the same period. The increase in violence is reflected in the number of incidents rising from 344 in 2013 to 590 in 2017. The union has criticised the prison service management for failing to engage to tackle the issue with its sole main response being to establish a helpline for staff. The union wants to see a range of measures taken including an increase in staff, improved surveillance technology and initiatives to provide inmates with suitable activities to assist in their rehabilitation.
Apr. 05, 2018 Following a meeting with the justice minister, the prisons section of the GÖD public service union has announced that the government is committed to create 75 new jobs and 100 training places to tackle the excessive workloads faced across the prison service. The talks also discussed the prospects for a quicker and more effective process for appointing prison staff and a plan for an expert study of the sector that would assist in drawing up standard safety guidelines.
Jan. 25, 2018 Prison staff unions in Belgium, France and Spain have been taking or are planning industrial action or demonstrations over staffing and pay. In France, the unions have raised concerns about prison overcrowding, violence against staff, the need for a significant increase in prison officer numbers and improvements to pay and conditions. After failing to get a satisfactory response from the justice ministry, the unions are calling for an extension of the action across the country. In Belgium, the issue is the failure of the government to adhere to a 2016 agreement on staffing levels and further action is planned over several dates in January and early February. Spanish unions are planning a national day of action on 24 February over staff shortages, pay and, in particular, major and unjustified differences in pay for the same job in different institutions.
Aug. 01, 2017 Reacting to a recent report on increased violence in prisons, the FNV trade union has called for increased investment in prison staff to be made a political priority. Official figures show that violent incidents against staff rose to an average of four and a half a day in 2015 and then five a day in 2016. This, along with evidence of widespread drug abuse in prisons, has been taken up by the FNV as well as as the central works council of the justice ministry.