Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prison break

The late great Peter Ustinov, when in Australia, was told that many Brits looked down on Ozzies because they were descended from convicts. Looking rather sniffy he replied "What worries me more is that some of you must be descended from the guards".

This morning's surprise news is that the UK's prison offers are taking illegal strike action. The action started at seven and reports seem to confirm the action is pretty solid. This is the first strike in the 68 year history of the Prison Officers Association and breaks the no strike agreement POA signed with various agencies. POA members endorsed the call for strike action over pay with a massive 87% in favour.

According to the BBC Prison Officers' Association (POA) general secretary said: "We told government and indeed the Prison Service of the result of that ballot and we asked for meetings.

"None of those meetings have happened and that has caused our membership to call for strike action which we have taken today."

We'll see whether the police and the army are drafted in to fill the gaps as prisoners are left in their cells, unable to receive visits and more than likely will be unable to attend court appearances they may have. The prisoners reaction to this state of affairs will be very interesting indeed.

I think my position on this is similar to that towards workers in industries like nuclear power or the arms trade. Yes for unionisation, yes for decent conditions - but lets assess what you do too. I've no doubt that being a prison officer is a shit job, like policemen their lot is not a happy one, many socially reactionary jobs are unpleasant. As Morrisey said "it pays my way and corrodes my soul".

If we're to have prison officers let them be well looked after motivated individuals who don't feel like taking their frustrations out on the prisoners. Which I suppose means I support the action. Victory to the POA!

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