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Today, guards from the Long Bay Forensic Hospital stopped work for one hour and rallied with supporters after their employer G4S refused a wage offer in-line with cost-of-living increases.

United Workers Union (UWU) members, who make up the majority of guards at the maximum security facility, have been bargaining with G4S since August last year but have so far been refused a wage rise that keeps up with the cost of living and makes up for years of below-inflation wage increases.

G4S has offered workers a 6 percent increase in the first year of the agreement and 4 percent in the second year. Guards are pursuing 6.75 percent for both years.

Workers at the facility are covered by an EBA and have not had a wage increase since 2022. The workers have also been going backwards for many years, having not seen a payrise above 2.8 percent in the last 6 years. This is in contrast to the Award increases determined by the Fair Work Commission which dictated an increase of 5.75 percent last year and 4.6 percent in 2022.

In the meantime, the average Sydney rental increased by 8.6 percent last year, while those with the a mortgage saw their repayments increase upwards of 20 percent over the course of 2023.

UWU coordinator Damien Davie said guards at Long Bay performed an important and necessary service and deserved to be compensated fairly for their work.

“Workers that continually put their safety on the line at the maximum security facility deserve, at the very minimum, a pay rise which keeps their head above water,” Mr Davie said.

“It’s tough work and because of their efforts, the community can sleep soundly at night knowing some of the State’s most vulnerable but also most dangerous folks are being well guarded.

The problem we’ve got is, if wages don’t rise and rise significantly, guards will look for work elsewhere and staffing levels will be put under pressure. I’m not so sure I’d sleep so well if I thought shifts at the notorious Long Bay Facility were not being filled.”

UWU delegate and guard at the hospital Simon Weston said it was a shame G4S had let it come to this.

“I have worked at Long Bay Forensic Hospital for over six years wearing my G4S uniform with pride knowing we are helping our community to be a safer place,” Mr Weston said.

“That is until recently, when it has become evident that G4S over the last seven years that our pay rises have not kept in step with recent cost of living increases or the increases determined by the Fair Work Commission.

“I feel let down that the company I was once proud to work for has clearly placed corporate greed over the welfare of me, my colleagues and the wider community.”

UWU members at Long Bay Forensic Hospital said they would continue to take protected industrial action and were exploring the possibility of refusing escorts for patients if G4S did not return to the table with a more respectful offer.