Fulham prison stalemate continues

PROTECTED industrial action will continue at Fulham Correctional Centre after talks at Fair Work Australia again fell down on Wednesday, but the Community and Public Sector Union decided against a proposed stop work action of catering and custodial officers during the early hours of Thursday morning.

The Community and Public Sector Union advised of further protected industrial action last Monday to meet the requirement of three days notice and followed through after talks at FWA last Thursday didn’t make significant progress.

The “indefinite or periodic” protected industrial action, affecting Fulham Correctional Centre catering and custodial officers, included union members not entering the workplace prior to rostered start times, a ban on collecting or signing for keys or accruements until after the morning parade is completed and a ban on completion of formal monthly reviews of prisoners in their IMP files.

Fulham Correctional Centre general manager Troy Ittensohn said he was “extremely disappointed” that staff of the prison had planned to walk off the job overnight in an escalation of their pay claims following Wednesday’s hearing.

The CPSU had planned the walk out of catering and custodial staff for between the hours of 2am and 3am Thursday morning, but decided against the move after consultation with staff.

Mr Ittensohn said that management were prepared to run the prison to ensure that the prisoners remained safe and the facility secure, but described the walk out, which lasted just one minute as a “farce.”

“The prison officers walked out, turned around and returned to their duties within seconds in what appears to be an orchestrated event to generate publicity,” Mr Ittensohn said.

“The company is attempting to hold meaningful negotiations but the union is obviously not serious in reaching an agreement.

“The latest actions are further proof of the games they are playing and will not resolve the situation.”

However a spokesman for the CPSU said the decision to terminate the stop work action was made after consultation with staff revealed that management had sent just two shift supervisors to staff the prison of 820 inmates.

“GEO has been caught playing safety Russian roulette at Fulham prison overnight,” the spokesman said.

“GEO had seven days’ notice of the planned stoppage by night shift officers but still only sent two supervisors to staff the prison of 820 inmates for the hour last night.

“Inmates were aware of the stoppage.

“The nine night shift staff met with our representatives at the planned stoppage time (2am) and decided immediately to return to their posts.

“Officers were so concerned GEO would put the two supervisors, as well as inmates, potentially in harm’s way, that we re-entered the prison.”

FWA had not set a date for further talks between the two parties at time of going to print.