Scottish prison officers join strike by public sector workers
Published: 10th May 2012 11:44:17
About 2,500 prison officers in Scotland have joined a strike of public sector workers protesting about pensions.
The staff walked out at 06:00 despite a voluntary deal the Prison Officers' Association has with the Scottish Prison Service not to strike.
It is illegal for prison officers in England and Wales to strike, but not in Scotland.
Up to 400,000 public sector workers are expected to join the 24-hour UK-wide walkout.
Every jail north of the border has been affected by the walkout, except the privately-operated Kilmarnock and Addiewell prisons.
The Scottish Prison Service said all jail transfers and visits had been cancelled.
Although officers in England and Wales are outlawed from striking, many have walked out and are supporting the strike.
It is understood the Westminster government is taking legal action against the union.
In Scotland, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said its 30,000 members would be taking part in the strike.
Picket lines are being staffed throughout the day at job centres, tax offices, Scottish government offices, the Scottish Parliament, Faslane nuclear base and both Edinburgh and Stirling Castle.
Rallies are to be held in Inverness and Dundee and a lunchtime gathering is scheduled at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall.
Other workers who are striking include lecturers, health visitors, pharmacists and paramedics.
Unions are protesting against proposed government changes to public sector pensions. These would result in workers having to:
The unions complain that the changes will leave public sector staff paying more and working longer for less.
Lynn Henderson, Scottish secretary for the PCS, said: "This strike is part of a national co-ordinated campaign in defence of public sector pensions. Scottish public sector workers are suffering pension losses, at the same time as their pay is being frozen for a second year by Scottish and UK governments.
"The targeting of public sector pensions by the UK government is part of the flawed economic agenda of austerity which disguises a wider ideological attack on the public sector and public sector workers."
The Prison Officers Association in Scotland said its members were particularly worried they would be forced to work into their late 60s.
Phil Fairlie, the POA's Scottish national chairman, said: "We believe the UK government owes our members a duty of care and the right to retire with dignity in a good state of mental and physical health and not to be subjected to the stressful and demanding environment of a prison in their elder years.
"A pension age of 68 is simply not acceptable to this union."
By 09:30, about 30 prison officers and staff had begun picketing outside Craiginches Prison in Aberdeen.
Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney said the civil service pension scheme was reserved to Westminster.
He added: "The UK government's short-term changes to pensions are nothing more than a cash grab to reduce the deficit and do nothing to address the sustainability of pensions over the long term.
"In partnership with trade unions and employer representatives, we are already discussing the long-term reform of public sector pensions in Scotland to apply from April 2015 that will reflect the unique nature of our workforce."
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Scottish prison officers join strike by public sector workers. [Online] (Updated 10 May 2012)
Available at: http://www.glasgowwired.co.uk/news.php/1427646-Scottish-prison-officers-join-strike-by-public-sector-workers [Accessed 25th May 2013]
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