Hundreds of prison educators held a one-day strike on Wednesday of last week against their employer’s attempts to force them to sign a new and dramatically worse contract.
The members of the University and College Union (UCU) in almost 80 prisons around the country are all employed by Manchester College.
Lecturers across the college struck against the college’s derecognition of the UCU at the end of term.
Prison educators are faced with plans to introduce new contracts with increased working hours and reductions in holiday and sickness entitlement.
If the plans are forced through some staff will have to move to new pay scales that could see them lose as much as £7,000 a year.
This comes after a wave of redundancies.
Pickets were out at a number of prisons across the country. At Lindholme Prison near Doncaster up to 20 members picketed and the mood was buoyant.
Delegations from neighbouring college UCU branches joined the picket line.
One striker said, “Our union organisation has been really strengthened by preparing for this strike.
“Members are angry at the way we are being treated by management.
The work we do is not valued yet prison education is the key factor in cutting reoffending.”
A strike rally was held in Manchester, which brought strikers from prisons across the north of England together.
The UCU president Alan Whitaker and Kathy Taylor, the union’s vice-president both spoke.
They stressed the union’s commitment to fighting the derecognition of the UCU, and the attacks on pay and working conditions.
Suggestions from the floor of the meeting for co-ordination of action across Manchester College in the future got a good response.