Overtime bans by Correctional Officers will be escalated this morning. The ban will disrupt remand hearings on one of the last court sitting days before Christmas. With the Tasmania Prison Service in crisis and the Hodgman Government refusing to negotiate, Correctional Officers say they have no other option.
Correctional Officers and their supporters will mark the commencement of the bans with a ‘honk off’ outside Risdon Prison this morning.
Correctional Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s pay offer and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. The overtime bans will impact the role of the Tasmania Prison Service to facilitate its duty to the community of Tasmania.
The escalation of protected industrial action comes as United Workers Union delegate and Correctional Supervisor Philip Pregnell writes to the Premier and Corrections Minister Elise Archer outlining the shocking toll of the current workplace issues on workers. The heart wrenching and deeply concerning personal stories show a workforce at breaking point. Correctional Officers are on suicide watch, there has been an increase family breakdown and self-harm.
Jannette Armstrong, United Workers Union Tasmania spokesperson says, “The workplace issues inside the Tasmania Prison Service are spiralling out of control. We are truly shocked at the state of affairs in our member’s letter to the Minister and are working with our distressed members hourly on this crisis.
“It can no longer continue. Before she shuts her office down for Christmas, Minister Archer must meet with us today. Or Correctional Officers have no recourse but to continue to roll out and escalate their protected industrial action. And this will keep escalating until the Hodgman Government takes these issues seriously and comes back to Correctional Officers with a fair wage rise and a commitment to improving working conditions. We must see a serious commitment to deal with understaffing and workplace health and safety issues.”
Philip Pregnell, Correctional Supervisor and United Workers Union delegate says, “Members’ lives are being put at risk by the failure of this Government to show any form of leadership to resolve this crisis. The Government is continuing to show why Correctional Officers have no confidence in them to lead or resolve, through their silence and acceptance of the crisis they have caused.”
Issues listed in the letter to the Minister include:
- We have several Officers on suicide watch by other Officers due to psychological injuries from the workplace and mismanagement of their workers compensation;
- We have increases in Officers having family breakdowns, due to the stress and working conditions they are placed under by the current situation; We have more inmates self-harming due to mental illness, but there are inadequate mental health care supports available to them;
- Understaffing issues are spiralling out of control. On a daily basis a small number of COs are left to hold the fort and pick up the extra workload, which leads to them burning out too, or being more susceptible to illness;
- We are attending more cell fires than ever before due to the understaffing and the TPS is taking our protective gear to fight these cell fires away.
The letter to the Minister is available here.