Three days of strikes announced for prison education staff across England
The University and College Union (UCU) has today (Tuesday) announced three days of strike action at prisons across England over Covid health and safety concerns.
UCU prison education members will stage a one-day walkout at 49 prison and young offender institutions on Monday 26 April followed by a two-day strike on Tuesday 11 May and Wednesday 12 May. Further industrial action may be announced if the employer, Novus, fails to resolve the dispute.
Novus is responsible for providing education at the 49 sites where staff are taking industrial action. The dispute centres on its failure to meaningfully engage with UCU over Covid health and safety concerns and on-site provision. Novus has used complaints and investigations to intimidate UCU’s health and safety representatives, making it difficult for staff to raise safety concerns and impossible for any meaningful health and safety discussions to take place.
The strikes were announced after more than two thirds of UCU members who were balloted last Friday (9 April) voted for strike action. Over 82% of members who voted also said they were prepared to take action short of strike. This could include refusing to go on the wings other than to access the education department, and non-attendance on site where members believe that inadequate safety measures are in place.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Strike action is never taken lightly, but prison educators will not allow Novus to put their health and safety at risk. If Novus wants to avoid these strikes, it needs to listen to this strong mandate from staff, stop intimidating our health and safety representatives and withdraw the unfair complaints and investigations against them so that we can have meaningful health and safety discussions.
‘Unless Novus stops its bullying behavior, our members will walk out on 26 April, followed by a two-day strike on 11 and 12 May. We have a mandate to take sustained industrial action and Novus needs to urgently address staff health and safety concerns if it wants to avoid further disruption.’