STAFF at the Wee County's HMP Glenochil could go on strike for the first time in seven years if they vote to join colleagues across Scotland.

The Prison Officers' Association Scotland last Friday, May 10, unanimously voted to ballot for industrial action over a "long-standing" dispute with employers, involving terms and conditions as well as pay.

Issues with overcrowding at Scottish prisons as well as increasing violence were said to be "a factor" that affects the "mood and atmosphere" as well as the "level of frustration amongst the membership" of the trade union, according to association chairman Phil Fairlie.

Mr Fairlie, a former Wee County councillor, wanted to make clear the industrial action is about salaries.

He told the Advertiser "Prison officers have been subject to public sector pay, which has been governed by austerity measures for the last decade.

"We have long since been arguing for a proper pay rise for prison officers and it's ever been forthcoming."

Delegates at last week's conference decided they will ask their branches whether members would like to go on strike over the issue, meaning nothing is set in stone yet.

However, Mr Fairlie – who used to represent Clackmannanshire Central, but stepped down partly to focus on his chairmanship in the trade union – reckons the mood among prison staff is pointing to one direction.

He said: "It's a foregone conclusion; membership will absolutely vote to go on strike if we can't make progress in the pay talks that are ongoing at the moment.

"The delegates from Glenochil prison were at the conference today and they voted alongside every other branch – every other prison in the country – to support the call for industrial action.

"I've been in the prison service coming up to 30 years and I've never know the morale to be as low as it is at the moment, and that includes staff inside Glenochil."