From Bruce Overton, Portsmouth:

In 1918 members of the National Union of Police and Prison Officers took strike action in protest about pay and conditions.

As a consequence the government of the day introduced the Police Act of 1919, which outlawed police and prison officers from being members of a trade union. The police became a ‘federation’. The prison service was to become an ‘association’.

Prison officers could not, and still cannot, legally take any action that ‘may’ be contrived as a breach of prison discipline, as outlined in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994.

There comes a time however when good men and women say, “enough is enough”. In 1994, Island prison officers were forced to take illegal industrial action in protest at the imposition of a derisory pay increase.

Now, in 2018, once again prison officers are having to take illegal industrial action. This time to express their concerns about health and safety in our jails. On the Isle of Wight prison staff are no strangers to violence perpetrated by prison inmates.

From the notorious and bloody prison riot at Parkhurst in1969, and then Albany, through the decades prison staff nationally and on the Island have suffered the most appalling injuries at the hands of vicious violent prison inmates.

Whenever there are prison disturbances all we hear from government ministers are hand-wringing platitudes. Our political masters will ooze with praise about the work prison officers do behind those prison walls.

And yet, when those hard-pressed men and women have to resort to taking illegal industrial action, those very same staff are treated as pariahs by this government.

If taking industrial action inconveniences prison inmates for a few hours and embarrasses this crass government, then so be it!

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