Probation officers vote to strike after govt breaks pay agreement

From the Morning Star:

PROBATION officers voted overwhelmingly for strike action on Monday after government employers refused to pay the increments due to them from April in breach of their contracts.

Members of probation union NAPO voted 94 per cent in favour of action in a strike ballot, with a hefty 52 per cent turnout.

Union officials accused the government of breaching members’ contracts by refusing to pay the increments, which are paid annually and reflect experience.

NAPO members are still awaiting a pay offer for a settlement, also due in April.

The union’s newly appointed general secretary Johnathan Ledger said that members had sent a “very clear message” to probation employers with this ballot result.

“The fact that 94 per cent support industrial action reflects their anger and frustration at the way they are being treated by their employers,” he stressed.

“We still hope that we can resolve this dispute through negotiations, but, if necessary, members have shown their readiness to take industrial action including strike action.”

Next Monday, NAPO, together with sister justice unions Public and Commercial Services (PCS) and the Prison Officers Association (POA), will be holding a major meeting with parliamentarians to discuss common concerns, including attacks on public workers’ pay and conditions.

The meeting will be addressed by, among others, recently retired NAPO general secretary Judy McKnight, Labour MPs John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber and POA general secretary Brian Caton.

Mr Caton offered his union’s full support for NAPO members’ decision to take action.

“Their requests over many months had never been answered by this government, so you can’t blame them for taking action,” he said.

Mr Caton said that police, prison and probation officers were “very disappointed” at the way the government has handled their pay, stressing that co-ordinated action was needed to defend all public sector workers’ pay.

“I hope that the TUC will straighten its back and stand up to a government that does not seem to care for its workforce or supporters,” he added.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw voiced his hope that industrial action would not take place and shamelessly claimed: “We are in a period where, after considerable improvements in public-sector pay, everyone is having to accept that there is less money available.”

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