Prison officers should have the right to strike, the TUC agreed today.
Delegates at the TUC Congress in Brighton voted prison officers should have the right to restrict or withdraw their labour in the event of disputes.
The government has taken legal action against the Prison Officers' Association (POA) over last month's walk-out, which it claimed was illegal and breached an informal agreement.
POA general secretary Brian Caton told conference today he could not understand why a Labour government would seek to deny prison workers their full rights.
Delegates agreed prison staff deserved full trade union rights, including the right to take industrial action.
Mr Caton told union delegates: "We are not saying we want to go on strike, but we want the right to do that if we are being abused.
"We want mutual understanding, respect and trust."
He was backed by Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, who said prison officers were justified in walking out of their jobs last month.
The POA is set to hold more talks with the government over pay, with members objecting to a staged 2.5 per cent pay deal.
Delegates in Brighton supported the prison officers and said the government should return "fairness" to the profession.