Prison officers reject pay and pensions offer

Prison officer

Members of the Prison Officers Association in England and Wales have "overwhelmingly" rejected an offer on pay and pensions, the union has said.

Union leaders had endorsed the proposed agreement, which would have allowed prison officers to retire at 65, but members voted against it by two to one.

The union said it wanted to address "issues of concern" with the government.

The Ministry of Justice said it was disappointed but would continue talks.

It comes after a 12-hour riot at HMP Birmingham last week, described by the Prison Officers Association as the worst since the Strangeways jail riot 26 years ago.

Up to 10,000 prison officers in England and Wales protested last month over claims of a "surge" in jail violence but returned to work after a High Court injunction ordered them to end their 24-hour protest.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police officers in riot gear stand outside HMP Birmingham

Under the rejected deal, which was approved by the POA's National Executive Committee earlier this month, staff would be able to retire with an occupational pension at 65 - even when the state pension age rises to 68.

Pay was proposed to increase by between 0.5% and 1% in each of the next three years, with further loyalty payments of up to £1,000.

But almost two-thirds of union members who voted rejected the deal. There was a 52% turnout among the 19,000 eligible prison staff in England and Wales.

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said some prison staff believe they should be allowed to retire with a full pension at 60, as police officers are allowed to do.

There are also concerns that pay is still not enough to attract sufficient staff, the correspondent added.

The Ministry of Justice said Justice Secretary Liz Truss intends to meet with union leaders in the New Year.

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