25 October 2016
A “one-fits-all” approach to workers’ rights is not appropriate for all sections of the workforce, General Secretary of The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers (POA), Steve Gillan, has said, announcing his union’s official support for the Institute of Employment Rights’ proposals for the reform of employment law.
The Manifesto for Labour Law, drafted by 15 leading labour lawyers and academics from some of the UK’s most prestigious universities, draws on a wide evidence base and international comparisons to make 25 policy recommendations for the next Labour government. Last month, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell announced the Labour Party’s adoption of the proposals.
Steve Gillan explained why the Manifesto is important to members of the POA:
“Prison officers and related grades are one of the many sections of the population that loses out when the government imposes the same statutory minimums and rights across the nation’s workforce.
“Our members work with some of the most violent and dangerous sections of the community and they do so in physically and mentally stressful conditions. While the prison population has risen exponentially in recent years, employers are not hiring extra staff and the prisoner-to-officer ratio is now at breaking point. Assaults on our members are rising as a result, yet this is seen as an ‘occupational hazard’ rather than a matter for the law. And because the government’s increased pension age applies to all workers equally, prison officers are expected to do all of this until they are 68 years old.
“Through sectoral collective bargaining, as recommended in the Institute of Employment Rights’ Manifesto for Labour Law, union officials with specialist knowledge of the industry can sit down with employers to negotiate appropriate terms and conditions for the prison workforce, allowing us to come to an agreement on minimum standards that actually work for our members and their bosses. Ministers attempting to impose a one-fits-all approach on the workforce – whether in terms of wages or conditions – simply doesn’t make sense and creates unnecessary conflict.
“The POA is proud to back the Institute of Employment Rights’ Manifesto for Labour Law and support the Labour Party’s vow to implement it.”