This case study examines the Voluntary Industrial Relations Agreement (VIRA), signed by The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the unions comprising the SPS Trade Union Side (TUS) in December 2001, and the Forward Together partnership agreement (2003), which further changed the way that employment relations operate in SPS.

The SPS is an executive agency of the Scottish Executive Justice Department, and is independent of other UK prison services. It employs some 4,200 staff at 15 operational establishments, a training college and in its headquarters. 

SPS recognises four trade unions, the largest being the Prison Officers’ Association (Scotland). The others are the Public and Commercial Services Union, Prospect and the Royal College of Nursing. Together these constitute the SPS Trade Union Side (TUS).

The VIRA and Forward Together represent two of the most significant events in the history of SPS employment relations. The agreement recognises the commitment that the partners have made to providing a competitive service to the people of Scotland, whilst acknowledging and embracing the wellbeing and contribution of its staff.

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