WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Prison staff get limited sympathy

Another week, another challenge for Gordon Brown as pay staging rules, introduced when he was chancellor, brought prison officers out on strike for the first time in their union’s 68-year history.

Brown was applauded by most commentators for ref­using to back down on public-sector pay staging, but rec­eived clear warnings that he might face a ‘winter of mounting discontent’ (The Times, 31 August) after the TUC conference later this month.

The prison officers’ lot was portrayed more sympathetically by journalists than readers responding via websites. They are ‘undervalued and overstretched’, according to James Sturke (The Guardian, 29 August). A reader, echoing the leader column in The Sun, had little sympathy, observing that ‘it’s hardly rocket science walking around locking people up’ (30 August).

The Prison Officers’ Association, despite making all the right noises, was accused of disregarding the court ­injunction ‘for publicity rather than strategic purposes’ (The Guardian, 3 September).

But with more government talks planned, the lid is being kept firmly closed on a potentially explosive situation.

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.

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