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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Prison officers call off strike
HMP Winson Green
Officers in Birmingham have been refusing to work extra hours
An all-out strike in UK jails has been called off after two hours of talks between the Prison Officers' Association and the government.

The strike - over overtime payments- had been due to take place on Friday.

The government had planned to take the union to court to prevent the walk-out - but the legal moves have been halted.

Last week, as many as 20 officers at Birmingham's Winson Green jail refused to work extra hours guarding prisoners on suicide watch.

In response, the Prison Service obtained a High Court injunction ordering unions to remove a circular advising its 35,000 members to refuse to work extra hours at any of the UK's 152 prisons.

Earlier on Tuesday, the union said the injunction would have to be set aside if the action was to be called off.

After calling off the strike, POA general secretary Brian Caton said the union would continue to press for the full return of its right to take industrial action, which was taken away under the Conservatives.

If someone finishes a day at work then they have a human right to come home
Colin Moses, POA

But he said talks with prisons minister Gerry Sutcliffe could now take place "in a better environment".

Prison officers in England and Wales had voted in favour of action last month, prompting the POA's national executive committee to vote for strike action across the whole of the UK for the first time in almost 90 years.

Earlier on Tuesday, Colin Moses, national chairman of the POA, said forcing prison officers to work overtime was a breach of their human rights.

"If someone finishes a day at work then they have a human right to come home.

"The Prison Service is in crisis and my members are fed up to the back teeth of being treated like second-class citizens because of the failings of inept managers, the drive of the Prisons Board to achieve paper targets and efficiencies set by government which will only lead to wholesale problems within the Criminal Justice System."

Prison overtime row goes to court
16 Sep 06 |  West Midlands
Suicide watch ban by prison staff
14 Sep 06 |  West Midlands
Prison praised on safety measures
25 Aug 06 |  West Yorkshire
Prison needs more work to be done
22 Aug 06 |  West Midlands

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