VIDEO: Head of prison workers’ union criticises Labour and denies ‘no-strike’ dealPosted: March 11, 2015
General Secretary of POA engages in war of words with politicians and other unions
The head of the Prison Officers Association (POA) has accused the Labour Party and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) of political game-playing in a dispute over “no-strike” deals.
The POA was accused of signing away their members’ right to strike for two years in exchange for a £2,000 bonus payment.
But Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the union that represents over 35,000 prison, correctional and secure psychiatric workers, said he wanted to “put the record straight” in an exclusive video interview with Prison Watch UK.
Labour’s love lost
Mr Gillan thinks there’s “a little bit of politics involved” in the allegations. The POA was one of only two trade unions that supported the ‘Yes’ campaign.
“It was a little bit of payback from Scottish Labour whose vote has collapsed in Scotland to the SNP,” said Mr Gillan.
“The SNP – whether we like it or not – have played a good card. They are supporting public services in Scotland. They are supporting public sector workers in Scotland. I think Labour needs to re-find itself if it is to not be a complete disaster up there.”
He suggested that the Labour Party had to re-examine their approach and engage with voters.
“I’m a Labour Party member, but what I think they need to do is get back in touch with Scottish people and go back to the very basics of what they stand for.”
STUC in a rut
Mr Gillan said the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) should be following the POA’s example rather than criticising it.
“What I would say to the trade union movement is follow our lead and go in and negotiate a good deal for your members,” said Mr Gillan. “If this was any other trade union that had gone in and negotiated a deal like that to avoid strike action, those unions would have been heralding it as a major success.”
He strongly denied that the POA had sold out by signing the deal with the Scottish Prison Service.
“I want to kill the myth that my union signed up to a no-strike deal in Scotland,” said Mr Gillan. “But I do know of some unions within the trade union movement that do sign up to sweetheart deals. We’re not one of them.”
Mr Gillan also pointed out that prison and police officers were not allowed to strike under the 1994 Criminal Justice Public Order Act.
We will be publishing a full-length interview with Steve Gillan next week. In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.