§ Sir John Wheeler
I have reviewed the employment status of prison officers in Northern Ireland in the light of the temporary injunction granted to the Home Secretary against the calling of industrial action in the Prison Service in England and Wales. I have concluded that the employment status of prison officers in Northern Ireland should match that in England and Wales.
Legislation will therefore be introduced this Session confirming that it is unlawful for organisations representing prison officers in Northern Ireland to call for industrial action. This will also apply to organisations representing prison officers in the rest of the United Kingdom. At the same time the legislation will extend normal trade union status to organisations representing prison officers in Northern Ireland. It will also extend to prison officers the appropriate elements of employment protection legislation, including access to industrial tribunals, on a basis comparable to that for other workers. There will also be provision for regulations to be made to establish procedures for settling the remuneration of the staff concerned.
My officials will be in discussion with representatives of prison officers in Northern Ireland about these provisions.