Barnett Government talks with Prison Officers reach stalemate

WA Prison Officers are angry after negotiations between their union and the state government reached a stalemate yesterday.

The talks broke down when the Department of Corrective Services reneged on providing in writing a previously discussed verbal offer.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said prison officers were concerned that the Department’s external consultant Paul Zorzi said they weren’t going to put the offer in writing even though they’ve been promising to do so for weeks.

“Prison officers are disturbed by the government’s dishonesty. We were told a letter of offer was being drafted, and that we would receive it shortly when this clearly wasn’t true.

“The State Government have been stringing us along for months now, first to get the talks started and then by stalling and cancelling scheduled meetings.

The state’s prison officers have for months been calling on the Barnett Government to fix prison overcrowding, increase staffing levels in prisons and agree to better pay and conditions for prison officers.

Mr Welch said that prison officers were also alarmed to hear that Mr Zorzi was getting paid over $2000 per day to represent the government in negotiations yet at the same time refusing to make an offer of better pay to prison officers.

“While prison officers are continuing to act with integrity and being proactive about the crisis at Banksia Hill their patience is wearing thin with the Department continuing to mislead and drag their feet.

“In these negotiations we need confidence that the Department means what it says. Telling us one thing then doing another is hardly a way to engender confidence in the integrity of the negotiators. We need good faith not distrust to make progress.

“We are tired of waiting for the Barnett Government to get serious about fixing the crisis in the state’s prisons,” said Mr Welch.

Prison officers will now consider their next course of action.