Prison staff raise fundamental issues

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Prison staff raise fundamental issues

Mount Gambier Prison staff rallied on Friday afternoon in pursuit of better working conditions as part of a strike organised by the United Workers Union.

The strike was held to address “inadequate staffing”, a wage increase, supervisors to be recognised at their current conditions, an end to staff administering medication and a change to the staff eating meals prepared by inmates.

The eight-hour action took place from 4pm when the chief executive officers left the prison and continued until midnight. Skeleton staff worked to maintain the safety and welfare of prisoners and joined the movement once their shift was over.

United Workers Union Organiser Darren Roberts said members have had several meetings with G4S Custodial Services as a bargaining team.

“They have acknowledged one of our concerns and there are other changes that have occurred but not necessarily the five fundamentals that were outlined in the beginning of this struggle,” he said.

“G4S have recognised the medication issue which can now only be administered in times of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.

“Staff hold these five issues very highly. We had a strong log of claims that were wide ranging and we have dropped items off that to get down to these five priorities.”

Mr Roberts said he believed it was the first time protected industrial action had occurred in relation to a private industry prison in South Australia.

“It has certainly happened elsewhere, but it is a credit to the entire workforce and the support they have created amongst each other and for each other to be able to perform this action,” he said.

“We hope this encourages workers wherever they are who are not receiving the treatment, dignity or respect they deserve to have their voices heard.

“Everyone is entitled to join a union and we would encourage everyone to be part of a collective and to utilise that combined strength to increase their space.

“With the support within this group I think there could certainly be further action and escalated action.”

Mr Roberts said the United Workers Union met with G4S on Monday morning with no resolution reached causing the group to continue ongoing action in the near future.

A G4S spokesperson said negotiations were ongoing.

“G4S respects the right of the United Workers Union to take protected industrial action,” he said.

“However, we are disappointed that this step has been taken, given the highly beneficial package that has been presented.

“At this stage, the offer remains on the table. The parties agreed to meet again on December 8.”

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