Prison Officers take action a third time to demand a better deal from global outsourcers MTC.
Officers at Parklea Gaol walked off the job for 72 hours as negotiations between the CPSU NSW and MTC continue over wages and conditions at the privately run centre.
“To date, MTC has not yet come to the table with more money, despite employees indicating strongly to MTC that four per cent per annum was the wage offer that members were after” said CPSU NSW Assistant General Secretary Troy Wright.
MTC is stalling at a three per cent increase, an offer well short of the rampant, profit-driven inflation affecting the people of NSW. As such, Officers walked off the job from 6:00am 1 March to 6:00am 4 March.
Members walked off despite a last-ditch attempt by MTC management to delay the strike by putting the Enterprise Agreement out for a vote again, despite it having already been rejected.
“When this offer came from MTC, we surveyed members about delaying the walk-off,” said CPSU NSW Industrial Officer Jessica Epps. “We received the highest number of replies to any survey we have ever sent out: with 90 per cent of them against any delay.
“The members have spoken.”
The stoppage received positive media coverage, including from the high-rating announcer Ray Hadley on 2GB.
“This stoppage was absolutely critical,” said Mr Wright. “Members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a 72-hour stoppage, which is why MTC were notified accordingly. The Wednesday and Thursday in particular were incredibly difficult for MTC to handle because of the number of activities scheduled for those days.”
The negotiations are taking place against a backdrop of two previous walkouts by CPSU NSW members. The first was on 16-18 December 2022 and the second on 27-29 January 2023.
“Members are not asking much. We just want another one per cent raise on our wages.
“Inflation is running rampant all over Australia, so Officers should not see a real drop in their purchasing power when they perform such a vital job for the people of NSW.”
Parklea is one of three privately run gaols in NSW. Unlike the other two built-for-purpose private gaols in Junee and Grafton, it was once in public hands and was sold off by the Labor Government in 2009. Since then the original operator, GEO Group, was stripped of the right to operate the gaol after numerous shortcomings in its stewardship were uncovered.
“Privatisation hurts everyone,” said Mr Wright. “Our members in Parklea are paid less than those working in prisons run by Corrective Services NSW. The prison is often short-staffed and there is an unacceptable number of incidents inside the gaol walls. We hope the operators come to the party over fair pay for members doing such dangerous work.”
“The entire business model for private prisons relies on cuts to expenditure boosting profits.
“For a public service like the incarceration and rehabilitation of inmates, the ultimate cost for these cuts is paid for by society as a whole.
“Ideally, Parklea needs to return to the Public Sector and a system where its staff are paid the same wages as those employed by Corrective Services NSW.
“Until that day, its employees, who work in one of the toughest workplaces in the state, need a fair pay deal that keeps up with the rising cost of living.”