Maryborough Correctional Centre.
Maryborough Correctional Centre. Valerie Horton

PRISON STRIKE: Workers walk off job over changing conditions

POLICE will be placed on standby today and the city's correctional centre will be placed in lock-down as Maryborough's prison officers walk off the job.

Allison Finley-Bissett from the Together Union said she was expecting every union member at the prison to be part of the strike action today to protest proposed changes to their working conditions.

Similar measures have been taken at prisons across the state this week, starting at Townsville Correctional Centre. The strike will be held in Maryborough today from 1pm to 7pm.

A statement from the union accused the State Government of undercutting Award conditions for prison officers by seeking to introduce operational staffing.

Together Union branch secretary Alex Scott said operational staffing would allow the government to "undercut Award conditions so they can alter shifts and work locations for correctional officers with just 24 hours notice."

Mr Scott described it as an unsafe working practice that had been "discredited in privately run prisons and abandoned in Queensland State Run Prisons after it directly contributed to the Brendan Abbott escape".

Abbott is convicted bank robber reported to have stolen and hidden millions of dollars.

He escaped from Fremantle Prison in 1989.

"Queensland prisons are already at breaking point - this offer just makes a major crisis more likely," Mr Scott said.

"The government needs to respect the risk our members take every day keeping the community safe and support them by making sure prisons are properly staffed, properly funded and properly resourced - this offer fails that test."

Mr Scott accused the government of putting the community and prison staff at risk.

"After two months of meeting and waiting for government negotiators to be provided authority to make an offer, when it finally came it was worse than anything seen in decades," he said.

A response from Queensland Corrective Services said the prison would be placed into lock-down as Together Union members strike as part of their Enterprise Bargaining negotiations.

"Similar actions are occurring around the state on a rolling schedule," a spokeswoman said.

"Significant planning has occurred to manage the risks associated with the industrial action.

"The centre will be closely monitored by the management team to ensure safety and security is not affected during the action.

"Prisoners will receive meals and medications as needed during this time, and contingency plans are in place should there be an incident at the centre, including police being on standby to respond."



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