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UCU writes to Ministry of Justice to raise concerns about treatment of prison educators at Novus

2 February 2021

UCU has written to the Ministry of Justice to raise ongoing concerns about the treatment of prison education staff working for Novus, England and Wales' biggest prison education provider.

In a letter to Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the union outlined how Novus is refusing to properly engage with UCU, while managers are insisting many staff take part in in-person activities, despite the current lockdown and widespread staff concerns about health and safety.

The letter, which calls on the government to encourage prison management to urgently re-engage with UCU representatives, comes after staff delivered a damning no confidence vote in John Thornhill, the CEO of Novus' parent group, LTE. Staff have reported intimidation, unlawful recording of union meetings, and unsubstantiated allegations against UCU reps.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady, said: 'We hope the government will take note of the current problems within Novus and ask why management are refusing to engage properly with UCU. It is incredibly frustrating that Mr Thornhill continues to refuse to meet with our chosen representatives to discuss how to deliver prison education safely. Staff health may be being put at risk. Mr Thornhill now needs to consider his position, and LTE's board must urgently address staff concerns.'

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