Prison officers have voted to go on strike for the first time in the union’s history in a row over pay, according to media reports.
The ballot to take industrial action follows a dispute over an offer of a 1.6% pay increase. The Prison Officer’s Association dismissed that as “derisory”.
Chairman of the association, Colin Moses, warned that there would be major safety issues at prisons if the strike goes ahead.
It is the first time in the association’s 68-year history that its members have voted to take industrial action. The 29,000-strong union balloted members in 132 public sector prisons across England and Wales.
“Urgent talks are necessary with government officials and the Prisons Board to ensure there is an independent system in place that will reward the professional men and women of the Prison Service for the work they undertake on a daily basis,” Moses said.
The union warned that morale among staff was “at an all time low”.
A ban on prison officer strikes was lifted in 2004 by then home secretary David Blunkett.