I have just been notified that the Government is taking the Prison Officers Association to the High Court today for contempt of court because the Home Secretary is claiming the union is taking industrial action. The Tories took away the right of prison officers to take industrial action. This abuse of the civil liberties of prison officers was condemned by Labour in opposition and New Labour oppposition spokespeople promised that this anti trade union legislation would be removed from the statute book.
9 years on and New Labour in government has not only failed to live up to its promises in opposition but is now using the Tories' legislation against the POA.
Many in the POA rightfully feel a sense of betrayal. They are deservedly angry.
What is even more inexplicable is that the POA members were not threatening strike action or anything that in normal parlance would be considered industrial action. They simply did not wish to continue undertaking additional work on a voluntary basis.
The heavy hand of the Government is destroying industrial relations in the justice sector both in prisons and the probation service.
The Trade Union Freedom Bill, which I have assisted in drafting and co-ordinating in Parliament, aims to restore basic trade union rights to the POA.
It's time now to moblise in support of the POA and the enactment of the Trade Union Freedom Bill.