Fair Work hearing fails to break prison impasse

A HEARING at Fair Work Australia could not resolve the industrial dispute between Fulham Correction Centre staff and management.

The matter will now return to FWA on Monday.

In A bid to put an end to the ongoing industrial action at the prison, the GEO Group has asked Fair Work Australia to terminate the bans.

The GEO Group, which manages the privately-run prison, lodged an application with Fair Work Australia at 2.30pm today, in an attempt to get the Community and Public Sector Union to lift its work bans at the prison, which began last Friday.

GEO spokesman Ken Davis said the decision to approach Fair Work Australia came after unsuccessful negotiations were held on Wednesday.

“A meeting between the union and management yesterday went for four hours, and we came to an agreement on a number of issues,” Mr Davis said.

“While it was a step in the right direction, the union still refused to lift its bans, which have resulted in prisoners being locked down for extended periods.”

Among the issues that were resolved at the meeting were holiday pay, public holiday entitlements and long service leave.

However, workers are continuing with industrial action as they rejected GEO’s new offer of a pay rise of three per cent per annum.

“We had some movement regarding the pay increase,” CPSU representative Andrew Capp said.

“GEO upped its offer from 2.5 per cent per annum to three per cent.

“While we were glad to see them prepared to up their offer, it’s still not enough, especially considering they’re offering 3.7 per cent to their interstate employees in New South Wales.”

Mr Davis said the primary concern held by GEO was for the welfare of staff and prisoners at Fulham.

“We are concerned that these work bans will affect the safety and security of our prisoners, as well as our non-union staff who are continuing to work as usual at Fulham.”

However, the CPSU refuted the claim, stating that safety and security had not been compromised by the bans.

“GEO is alleging in its application to Fair Work Australia that our actions at Fulham are putting the health and safety of prison officers and prisoners at risk,” Mr Capp said.

“We have, from the very start, made a point in this campaign that no-one’s health and safety will be put at risk by our actions.”