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Posted on 15 November 2016 at 13:46 GMT

HMP Lincoln, 15.11.16, photo by Nick Parker

HMP Lincoln, 15.11.16, photo by Nick Parker   (Click to enlarge)

Mass prison officer walkout over health and safety issues

The last issue of the Socialist published an article by a prison officer detailing the reasons for the crisis in the prisons and calling for action. On 15 November action was taken. Thousands of prison officers up and down the country walked out of their workplaces taking unofficial strike action.

This is over cuts and privatisation that has led to increasing deaths in custody including homicides, incidents of self-harm and assaults among prisoners plus a 43% rise in assaults on staff in the last year.

The Socialist was snapped up at Wormwood Scrubs by prison officers eager to read the article by one of their own - one bought the paper for 10. Rob Williams, NSSN national chair, addressed the picket line bringing solidarity. Prison officers were handed a letter by management threatening them with disciplinary action for walking out which is a legal right of any employee.

The government has also threatened legal action. Prison officers have been denied their right to strike since 1994.

Around 50 prison officers picketed the prison at Wetherby, Yorkshire, which has been heavily affected by inter-prisoner violence. Staff there told Socialist Party member Iain Dalton that while young offenders' institutes had been spared the worst effects of the cuts compared to the rest of the prison estate, they still had the same problems of not having enough staff to properly supervise prisoners.

The POA union of prison officers and allied workers has said as many as 10,000 officers took part in the walkout which follows previous unofficial action at branches like Holme House, Wetherby and Wormwood Scrubs.

POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: "The POA has consistently raised the volatile and dangerous state of prisons, as chronic staff shortages and impoverished regimes has resulted in staff no longer being safe."


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 15 November 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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Related links:

POA:

triangleWales is Europe's prisoner capital: capitalist cutters' crimes to blame

trianglePOA walkout over government failure to make prisons safe

trianglePrison crisis: a catastrophe of cuts and privatisation

triangleNSSN conference 2018: Mood for fighting action and coordination

triangleVote Mike Rolfe for Napo general secretary

Prison:

triangleFrom slavery to Black Lives Matter - racism and capitalist injustice exposed

triangleStreatham attack: Johnson's bill can't stop terror

triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

triangleCatalonia: Draconian prison sentences of independence leaders provokes mass protests and strikes

Health and safety:

triangleFight the schools Covid crisis

triangleContinue the fight to protect safety

triangleMandatory masks in shops law

Health:

triangleAngry health workers demand 15% now!

triangleCapitalist profit and the race to develop a vaccine

Prison officers:

triangle100 years since police went on strike: "never nearer to Bolshevism"

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