Union concerned about Serco savings to meet new contract

The WA Prison Officers’ Union is concerned about what measures contractor Serco will take to make up for the $33 million dollar reduction in its contract to manage Acacia prison.

The State Government has today announced that it has renegotiated a five-year contract extension for Serco to manage Australia’s biggest prison.

But WAPOU Secretary John Welch said he was very concerned about what Serco would have to cut to make up for the reduction in the contract price.

“Obviously Serco is a private company and as such has to maximise profits, so it’s not just going to absorb a $33 million dollar cut,” he said.

“It will have to make changes to maintain its profits, and we are very concerned that it will try to find savings in its staffing budget or cut corners in other ways.

“Acacia is already having issues with staff shortages and we would be very concerned about the safety of our staff if they put a hiring freeze in place or refused to back fill positions when Prison Officers take leave or are off sick.”

Mr Welch said it would also be a concern if Serco decided not to hire more staff at a time when the government was also planning to increase Acacia’s capacity by installing 75 additional beds.

“We are going to see a situation at Acacia where the government is going to cram more prisoners into the same space, which experience tells us will increase the likelihood of serious incidents occurring,” he said.

“It could have serious consequences if Serco refused to hire more staff to cater for this increase in the prison population.”