Prisons' staff set to walk off job | Bendigo Advertiser



27, 2011, 10:45 a.m.

Prisons’ staff set to walk off job


About 120 central Victorian prison staff will walk off the job for two hours this morning as part of the public sector pay dispute with the state government.Correctional officers at Loddon medium security prison near Castlemaine and the Tarrengower minimum security women s prison at Maldon will stop work at 7.30am, leaving the possibility of a prison lockdown.Security and emergency services group officers, as well as administration and program staff, will also stop work.The industrial action comes just two days after nurses at Bendigo Health agreed to end their strike over pay and conditions. A Corrections Victoria spokesperson said the department had strategies in place to manage all prisons, including Loddon and Tarrengower, during industrial action by staff.

These measures are in place to ensure the safety of the community, minimise disruption and maintain the security and good order of the prison, he said.Community and Public Sector Union Victorian branch secretary Karen Batt said the industrial action was a reaction to the length of time in reaching a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, which expired in June. It s in response to the delays they re having to experience with the government making a proper wage offer. The union has rejected the 2.5 per cent pay increase offered to public sector workers across the state.

We believe the wage deal that was made to the Victorian Police of 4.5 per cent has created a new benchmark for the public sector, she said.Workers will walk off in the morning before prisoners cells are opened for the day, delaying the unlock for two hours. Ms Batt said workers would continue with the protected industrial action until they were satisfied with the wage offer. The stoppages are part of the campaign to raise awareness and put the pressure on the government, she said.The two-hour stop work actions have been taking place in other prisons across the state.

A spokesman for the Coalition said decisions about industrial action are a matter for the union and individual members concerned.

The Victorian Government calls on the union to negotiate in good faith as we intend to do, he said.Earlier this month Department of Human Services staff at Malmsbury Youth Justice centre began a weekly two-hour stop work as part of industrial action over the same pay deal.At operational capacity, Loddon prison houses up to 410 prisoners and Tarrengower 54.

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