The threat of strike action by 7000 construction workers employed by the Prison Service has intensified after employers refused to accede to union demands for pay increases.

The service this week offered a package that included a basic pay rise of 1.13% with bonuses targeted at plumbers and electricians. This fell short of union expectations, despite warnings that unions were prepared to ballot for strikes to resolve the situation. UCATT and the T&G have called on workers to reject the measures.

In a letter to workers, UCATT general secretary Alan Ritchie said the proposals were unacceptable.

He said: “UCATT opposes targeted payments. They are divisive; they are non-consolidated and they are non-pensionable; the money comes from the overall pay budget, the application of such payments do not reflect across-the-board skill shortages and they will do nothing to attract people into the industry.”

The unions want greater parity of pay between prison maintenance workers and those in the private sector, and say workers should be rewarded for working in potentially dangerous conditions.