Whitemoor Prison staff walk out in “illegal strike”

PRISON staff at Whitemoor walked out this morning in an “illegal strike” over Government plans to make them work to 68.

Around 80 staff - understood to be half of the staff on duty - formed a picket line outside the March prison in a strike organised nationwide by the Prison Officers Association (POA).

About 80 per cent of the country’s prisons are thought to be affected by strikes. Prisoners are said to be in “lockdown”.

It is illegal for prison officers to strike in England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice has said the union could face an injunction to bring the strike action to an end.

One prison officer, who did not want to be named, said: “We’re waiting for the police to come and arrest us.”

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Graham Nolan, of the POA, said Government plans to raise the retirement age of officers to 68 had forced them to walk out.

“We are protesting against the Government’s plans to raise the retirement age for prison officers - they’re not doing it to the police or fire services,” he said.

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“We believe it is unjust to expect a 68-year-old to be in a prison with the sorts of people who are locked up there.

“It was not an easy decision to come out on strike today - the staff want to be in there doing their jobs and making the prison safe but enough is enough.

“This is not a local issue, this is a national issue. We are already suffering from a pay freeze as the cost of living increases. Our standard of living is being decimated.”

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said they were aware of the strike and were monitoring the situation.

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