UK prison guards end surprise strike after agreeing to negotiations Leslie Schulman at 5:25 PM ET
[JURIST] A widespread strike [BBC report] by UK prison guards Wednesday ended the same day after the Prison Officers' Association (POA) [union website] agreed to negotiate new pay terms with the government this coming Friday. The surprise strike, which began with a full walkout of staff members early on Wednesday morning, affected all 129 prisons in England and Wales, causing lock-downs in many of the facilities. Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw [official profile] issued a statement [text] following the strike's end, saying:
The strike action by the Prison Officers' Association is deeply regrettable and wholly unjustifiable. We have been actively trying to engage with the POA through talks and regular meetings and yet this action came without warning. Ministers have met with the POA on a regular basis in recent weeks and were due to meet next month . . .We are urgently considering what other action to take in respect of this unannounced and unlawful action by the POA. We will take all available steps to ensure that this strike does not impact adversely on our primary duty to protect the public.
Pay disagreements in the UK corrections system are not new, and have lately been exacerbated by concerns over prison overcrowding [JURIST news archive] and the development of private prison facilities [HMPS backgroounder] since the 1990s. One year ago, UK prison officers planned a full scale strike over overtime pay, but that strike was called off [BBC report] after negotiations between the POA and the government proved an agreement could be reached.
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