Prison officers ballot for strike

The excutive of the Prison Officers Association (POA) have decided to ballot its members for industrial action after the breakdown of its talks with the Government at the LRC.

By Denis Keane

Reducing the size of the overtime bill has been the government's main focus at the LRC. Other issues being discussed include what if any notice prison officers will be given to attend work and the raft of changes to working conditions that will be needed to implement the proposed annual hours scheme.

During the course of these discussions the POA were accused of breaking confidentiality by issuing a members' bulletin in the middle of the talks. This type of nonsense was reflective of management's intransigence, and the "hard ball" being played by Michael McDowell. His closure of two prisons and the de facto privatisation of two other prison facilities are proof that this Government want to break the prison officers, introduce massive cuts in wages and at begin the process of privatisation of the prison system.

The POA Executive at its meeting on 3 February decided to ballot its members for industrial action. The Executive will be asking prison officers to an overtime ban, the blacking of certain duties and if necessary an all-out strike.

The position taken by Minister McDowell in relation to the prison officers is linked to the Government's ideological drive to privatise the civil and public service. Prison officers should refuse to accept McDowell's dictats and begin an immediate campaign of industrial action to put manners on this rottweiler and his privatisation mad colleagues.

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This article is from the Feb. 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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