Correctional Officers have commenced a ban on overtime and recalls from 7:00am this morning. Officers will not accept overtime hours and will not accept a recall to duty for a shift for 24 hours starting today.
The overtime and recall ban is the next step in Correctional Officers’ schedule of protected industrial action. Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s pay offer and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions.
Today’s action by members will highlight the significant personal contribution Correctional Officers make to a safer Tasmania by going above and beyond their rostered hours.
Under the current staffing crisis, overtime and recalls move prisoners out of their cells and into the programs and appointments they need for rehabilitation.
The 24-hour action will undoubtedly impact on out-of-cell hours, with the understaffed roster insufficient to provide safe staffing levels for operation. It may also impact programs, professional appointments and transport to court appearances.
The reality is that officers are leaving the system faster than they can be replaced – and the failure of the Government to provide suitable safety systems has created this crisis.
Only wages and conditions that support, value and respect the current workforce will attract new employees. This is a matter of urgency.
Jannette Armstrong, United Workers Union Tasmanian spokesperson says, “Correctional Officers will take the next step in their rolling actions today. They have resoundingly rejected the offered wage increases that do not adequately recognise the value of, level of skill, and responsibility their job involves. Nor are the proposed rates commensurate with other similar roles in the Tasmanian Department of Justice.
“They have also resoundingly rejected the Government’s plans to employ lesser skilled and lesser paid workers. Members have significant and well-founded concerns about the safety impacts of having to work alongside officers who are not adequately trained or authorised to perform the full duties required of a Correctional Officer.
“At last Thursday’s stop work meeting, United Workers Union members unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the Director of Prisons, the Minister for Corrections, and Premier Hodgman. Correctional Officers in Tasmania Prisons Service have lost confidence because the service is in crisis. Chronic understaffing, daily lockdowns, dangerous overcrowding, and an epidemic of COs suffering work-related illnesses and injuries are all evidence of deficient management and governance.
“Correctional Officer members are saying enough is enough. They cannot continue to work in such a dangerous, unhealthy and toxic environment.”
United Workers Union Delegate and Correctional Officer Emma Hayter says, “Correctional officers are under increasing pressure. The Tasmanian community requires a solution for this which is not a band aid measure, to ensure the safety of all is maintained.
“We are not being recognised for our hard work. We perform an important and difficult role for the delivery of justice in Tasmania. We should not be taken for granted and our pay and conditions should be reflective of this.”
Correctional Officers first walked off the job in June and again on Thursday 28 November 2019. The Government has not come back to the table with an adequate wages offer or a serious commitment to deal with understaffing and workplace health and safety issues. Actions will continue to be rolled out until the Hodgman Government negotiates an increased wage rise and improved working conditions in good faith.
Following the overtime ban, Correctional Officers will commence administration bans next week.