Goulburn Correctional Facility staff who walked out in strike to be sent back by the Industrial Relations Commission

Goulburn Correctional Facility staff leave work and are on strike.
Goulburn Correctional Facility staff leave work and are on strike.

The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) has ruled Corrective Service NSW staff will go back to work after a state-wide, “rogue” strike today.

About 200 staff members from the Goulburn Correctional Facility walked out today.

According to the NSW Public Service Association (PSA), the action comes as the state government announced Long Bay Correctional Centre in Sydney would lose 91 jobs and close to 300 jobs will likely be cut across the state.

At a snap press conference held by Minister for Corrections David Elliott this afternoon, he said he was “delighted” the IRC ordered the unions back to work.

“The unions had the opportunity to speak to me about industrial action and did not to do that,” Mr Elliott said.

He said the action, which the unions forecasted to last for 48 hours, would have disrupted the police, court system and the prison officers who wanted to work.

“What I’m saying to the [prison] officers .. they had the option  to speak to me in parliament house but decided not to let me know about any pending industrial action. I think that’s unfair and against the interest of government,” he said. 

Staff at the Goulburn facility left the site around lunchtime today according to a source, and inmates have been kept in their cells until further notice.

Corrective Services staff across the state were petitioning for a healthier ratio between inmates and staff members.

The action follows a briefing with 200 Corrective Services officials, led by Corrective Services assistant commissioner Kevin Corcoran, earlier this week about staffing levels and benchmarking. 

"Despite our prisons reaching breaking point and the productivity commission confirming NSW is the worst performing state, the government has decided to start sacking workers, putting everyone at risk,” PSA  general secretary Stewart Little said.

"Prison officers have one of the toughest jobs imaginable. How any government could propose, in good conscience, to make their lives tougher and more dangerous is beyond me." 

A Corrective Services NSW spokesperson described today’s actions as disappointing. 

“We are disappointed by today’s action as the parties have to date participated in cooperative discussions, at the local and central levels and have also used the Industrial Relations Commission to assist,” 

“We want to reinforce that we are in the middle of consultations with staff and unions and no decisions on job changes had been made.

“We have been putting arrangements in place to maintain security, and provide meals and attend to the medical needs of inmates, as this situation unfolds.”

Benchmarking is being introduced across all NSW corrective facilities as part of the Better Prisons program.

More to come.