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There can be no ‘back-pedalling’ on the New Deal for Workers, POA chief warns Labour

THERE can be no “back-pedalling” on the New Deal for Workers, POA general secretary Steve Gillan warned Labour today at the union’s annual conference in Eastbourne.

Mr Gillan told shadow prison minister Ruth Cadbury that the prison officers’ union does not “forget easily,” referencing previous Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s breaking of a pledge to repeal anti-strike legislation.

Ms Cadbury told delegates that the government had failed to provide “serious answers” to problems of violence faced by prison officers, adding that the government had “more pilots than EasyJet,” rather than actions.

She promised that Labour would work with the POA to tackle the crisis.

Mr Gillan responded by welcoming the party’s plan, but he said: “I would like you to take this message back: there can be no back-pedalling on the new deal.

“The past we remember and the future we shape. We have had enough of [seeing] failed policy after failed policy [and] we don’t want to be let down again.”

During a second day of motions and debates, POA delegates called on HM Prison and Probation Service to “support your staff” amid the crisis.

Branch members highlighted issues faced by staff, including unsocial hours, unsafe working conditions, insufficient paternity and maternity leave and a need for higher expenses rates.

One delegate criticised the difference between the treatment of police officers and prison staff in their protection from danger they face at work, saying that the latter are seen as an “expendable commodity.”

Another said that there was a “significant impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the financial well-being of employees,” especially concerning expenses such as fuel allowance, and urged the union to negotiate higher rates to alleviate the burden on workers.

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