Education staff at 48 prisons and youth offender institutions are set to vote on strike action in a row over low pay.
Around 500 University and College Union members will be balloted on the action from next week. The staff are calling for a pay rise that helps them meet the cost of living crisis.
Novus, their employer, has offered a two per cent rise for 2021/22 and three per cent for 2022/23, below the current RPI inflation of 12.3 per cent.
The UCU claimed that prison educators have seen their pay fall by more than 25 per cent since 2009.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Prison educators urgently need a pay rise to help them meet the cost of living crisis, yet Novus wants them to accept a real term pay cut. This is completely unacceptable, our members in prison education are at real risk of facing poverty this autumn because historically low pay means they are already financially insecure.”
A spokesperson for the LTE Group, the parent group of Novus, said: “LTE Group is committed to ensuring that all our colleagues receive a pay increase that will help to support them in the face of the current cost of living crisis at the earliest possible opportunity.
“We commenced discussions on colleague pay with unions in February this year, and have remained in an ongoing dialogue ever since. We remain engaged in productive discussions with trade unions with the aspiration of reaching an agreement swiftly.”
The ballot will open on September 14 and close on October 5.
[UPDATE: On October 10 UCU announced that 94.47 per cent of its voting members voted for strike action. UCU members will now meet to decide next steps.]