Staff walk off the job at probation service in Portsmouth

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PROBATION staff have walked off the job amid a heated pay dispute.

Officers and other employees of the National Probation Service formed a picket line outside their office in Isambard Brunel Road in Southsea for two hours yesterday as part of a nationwide strike.

The workers, who are members of the union Unison, are protesting because they have only got a one per cent pay increase over the past five years.

The union’s regional organiser James Smith said the action was taken as a last resort.

Mr Smith said: ‘The probation employers are taking members’ loyalty for granted.

‘Our members undertake particularly stressful and distressing jobs, have undergone huge internal reorganisations and received year after year of insulting pay freezes.’

Under the coalition government 35 probation trusts in England and Wales were replaced by 21 privately-run community rehabilitation companies which are operating on payment-by-results contracts.

One worker, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘Given the work we do and the changes we have encompassed this is a real devaluation of our professional role and a huge demotivator.’