The metaphor of 'The Everlasting Staircase', drawn from the historic image of the prison treadmill, is only too apt an illustration of an often equally frustrating and weary journey - not only of prison officers in the forbidding and under-resourced institutions in which they spend their working lives, but of the organisation which for 70 years has struggled to gain a fairer share of pay, work-life balance and trade union rights for its members.
The Prison Officers' Association, or as it is now known, the POA: The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, finally gained recognition in 1939, after decades of struggle against the indifference and hostility of the authorities. The story presented here covers both this pre-recognition period and the continuing struggle throughout the 70 years since - epitomised in the POA's historic slogan 'Unity is Strength'.
No history is able to cover every event in the long and complex life of an organisation which in different ways has touched the lives of many thousands of its own members and beyond. But The Everlasting Staircase seeks to redress the balance of a popular view in which prison officers have sometimes been presented as callous oppressors to one showing that these embattled 'workers in uniform' have themselves more often than not been at the sharp end of what is an inherent uncaring system
- From the back cover
Read the review 'The Inside Story' in Socialism Today 131