John Clinton (POA Ireland) was elected a President of the new Board, with Franz-Josef Schäfer (BSBD) and Donato Capece (SAPPe) supporting him as Vice-Presidents. The new Board will continue to bring a great deal of experience and expertise to the work of the Justice Trade Council. CESI would like to congratulate the new Board, and in particular give a special thanks to the outgoing President Mark Freeman (POA UK) for all his hard work and commitment.
A central topic on the agenda was the importance of quality work for employees in prisons, with overcrowding, violence and assaults all contributing to poor working conditions in prisons. With the number of inmates rising, the number of prison officers has not been raised proportionately. This adds pressures and stresses to an already highly stressful work environment. POA (IRL) underlined the particularly difficult situation for workers in Ireland who have been dealt a 14% cut in their salary, and the prospect of a further 7% pay cut on the horizon. Members painted a bleak picture of the situation for prison workers, a situation which must now be reversed.
Trade Council members agreed on the need to share best practices. Some member organisations admitted they were not aware of the difficulties that prison officers in other countries were facing, which makes sharing experiences all the more important. The suggestion was put forward to organise prison visits for members as part of this process of sharing experiences. Responding to the suggestion, Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “Such proactive interaction between members is a fundamental part of the work of trade unions at EU level, and will ultimately contribute to CESI and its member organisations speaking with one voice on the issues central to the debate in the Justice Trade Council.”
The Justice Trade Council also came together to discuss Prison closures in England, the situation of Judicial clerks in Europe and European initiatives in the field of justice.