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English prisons face strike ballot in low pay dispute

8 September 2022

Staff at prisons and youth offender institutions across England are set to be balloted for strike action over low pay.

Around 500 UCU members working in education at 48 prisons and youth offender institutions across England will be balloted unless the employer raises pay to help staff meet the cost of living crisis. The ballot will open on Wednesday 14 September and closes on Wednesday 5 October.

The prison educators being balloted, who are employed by Novus, have seen their pay fall by more than 25% since 2009. Prison education is already one of the lowest paid sectors, as highlighted by the House of Commons Education Select Committee.

UCU is demanding Novus makes a pay offer that helps staff meet the cost of living crisis, but Novus has only offered 2% for 2021/22 and 3% for 2022/23, far below current RPI inflation of 12.3%.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Prison educators urgently need a pay rise to help them meet the cost of living crisis, yet Novus wants them to accept a real term pay cut. This is completely unacceptable, our members in prison education are at real risk of facing poverty this autumn because historically low pay means they are already financially insecure.

'Novus has a week before strike ballots open to do what is now necessary and make staff an improved offer. If it refuses to do so, staff will have no option other than to vote for strike action.'

Last updated: 21 September 2022