Prison talks today

DISCUSSIONS between Fulham Correctional Centre management and the Community and Public Sector Union will continue in a closed session at Sale courthouse today, with Fair Work Australia to hand down a decision should the parties fail to come to an agreement this week.

CPSU representative Andy Capp said the parties would continue discussions in Sale today in what he believed would be a closed session at Sale courthouse following an inspection at the prison by FWA deputy president Smith.

“We were in Fair Work Australia yesterday afternoon (Thursday), but we were only there for a brief time,” he said.

“The main purpose of that was to get the arrangements for next week at Sale courthouse organised.

“(FWA) deputy president Smith will inspect the prison and the parties will continue discussion in the afternoon in what I think will be a closed session.”

Outstanding issues to be agreed on include pay rises for employees at the prison as well as backdating any pay rises, public holiday compensation, including catering staff in the agreement and the inclusion of a discipline clause in the agreement.

The other major issue — staffing levels — will be addressed separately in voluntary arbitration later this year.

Both the GEO Group and CPSU are hopeful the negotiation and conciliation meetings will be successful, as both parties are trying to avoid having a commissioner hand down recommendations on unresolved issues — which, if made, both parties will have to agree to.

“We will try to resolve the issues, and deputy president Smith will make a ruling on any remaining issues (that have not been resolved),” Mr Capp said.

“The EBA will then be voted on by staff and once that finishes, a new EBA will be drawn up and signed off on.”

Mr Capp said union members were optimistic the negotiations would swing in their favour.

“We will be better placed next week (to determine a final outcome),” he said.

“We’re looking to put in our arguments, and we’re confident they will be well received by Fair Work Australia.”

The CPSU have lifted its bans and industrial actions as negotiations continue, a move which was appreciated by Fulham Correctional Centre management.

“Management of the Fulham Correctional Centre has welcomed the lifting of all bans at the prison by prison officers and their agreement to negotiate outstanding issues at Fair Work Australia,” a GEO spokesman said last Friday.