POA and Others v UK
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Judgement date :21/05/2014
This case was brought to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) by the representative association of prison officers (POA) to challenge the statutory ban on industrial action by all prison officers and the lack of adequate measures to compensate for the removal of this trade union right. The POA claimed that the ban amounted to an unjustified restriction of the right to freedom of association enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The ECtHR declared the application inadmissible due to the fact that the matter had already been submitted by the applicant to “another procedure of international investigation or settlement and contains no new information” as per Article 35(2)(b) of the ECHR. [Para 33]. The POA had in fact made a complaint before the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association (Committee) in 2004 alleging that the ban constituted a breach of the right to strike under ILO Convention No. 87. That Committee is considered to constitute another international procedure for the purposes of this admissibility criterion. [Para. 28].
In 2005 the Committee submitted the following recommendations to the ILO Governing Body which proceeded to approve them:
(a) Noting that the prison service is an essential service in the strict sense of the term where the right to strike can be restricted or even prohibited, the Committee requests the Government to take the necessary measures so as to establish appropriate mechanisms in respect of prisoner custody officers in private sector companies to which certain of the functions of the prison have been contracted out so as to compensate them for the limitation of their right to strike.
(b) The Committee requests the Government to initiate consultations with the complainant and the prison service with a view to improving the current mechanism for the determination of prison officers’ pay in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In particular, the Committee requests the Government to continue to ensure that:
- the awards of the Prison Service Pay Review Body are binding on the parties and may be departed from only in exceptional circumstances; and
- the members of the Prison Service Pay Review Body are independent and impartial, are appointed on the basis of specific guidance or criteria and have the confidence of all parties concerned.
(c) The Committee requests to be kept informed of developments in respect of the above.” [Para 22].