Union follows IRC ruling on industrial action but calls for transparency and change

Prison Officers Vocational Branch (POVB) vice-chair Jason Charlton.
Prison Officers Vocational Branch (POVB) vice-chair Jason Charlton.

Prison Officers Vocational Branch (POVB) vice-chair Jason Charlton has argued Minister for Corrections David Elliott has “refused” to meet with unions, following a snowballed strike among NSW prison staff.

The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) restricted industrial action as staff from across the state, including about 200 from Goulburn Correctional Facility, walked out in solidarity with news Long Bay Correctional Centre in Sydney would lose staff today. 

A ruling Mr Charlton hopes is followed by staff and union members.

“Mr Elliott and Commissioner Peter Severin do not consult with the members, they rely on executive staff to do the negotiations while they sit back and make these sorts of comments to the media without talking to front line prison officers,” he said, following a press conference where Mr Elliott referred to the action as “rogue” and “unfair”.

Staff at Goulburn jail walked out around lunchtime, with inmates locked in their cell and visitations suspended. 

He said it was “too early” to say if further action would be carried out. 

“Today’s action came from front line workers who are frustrated at the lack of concern shown by the government and our commissioner for their safety,” the union member said. 

Despite the shortlived walk out, Mr Charlton commended those who showed their solidarity.

“They stood up for fellow members at Long Bay over these job cuts.

“Every prison officer in the state will continue to stand up and fight to keep our jobs and keep prison officers safe.” 

The NSW Public Service Association (PSA) has urged the Department to release the Macksam Report, used to set financial and operational benchmarks, to allow for transparent negotiations.

The request includes site inspections on all NSW facilities and a risk assessment for impacts on existing staffing levels. 

The IRC orders will remain in force until May 12 at 5pm.