WAPOU to take Sodexo to Fair Work for ripping off prison officers

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has accused private contractor Sodexo of ripping off its staff at the new women’s prison before it’s even commenced operations.

Sodexo is a multinational company selected by the State Government to manage the women’s facility Melaleuca, which will begin taking prisoners today (Thursday).

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said Sodexo was simply ignoring the terms of the Award for staff who had completed their training and were now working full shifts in preparation for the prison’s opening.

“Sodexo is treating its staff with contempt, by flagrantly breaching multiple conditions of the Award,” he said.

“Despite Prison Officers completing their training, they are still being paid training wages. They have not been paid penalty rates for night and weekend shifts, they are not being paid for overtime, and some have only been provided with one uniform despite working five days a week.”

Mr Welch said he also had serious concerns about Sodexo’s ability to manage rosters, with current rosters not complying with the Award.

“Some officers have been required to work 10 consecutive shifts, others have worked 7 consecutive night shifts, neither of which is allowed under the Award,” he said.

“In addition, there have been multiple shifts that are shorter in duration than stipulated by the Award, there are insufficient days off between shifts, multiple shifts that don’t allow for a rostered meal break, and instances where officers are being asked to work through their meal breaks without compensation.”

Mr Welch said the alleged breaches of the Award led the union to question Sodexo’s ability to manage the prison.

“We have had all these problems before the prison has even opened, which makes us very concerned about what’s going to happen once the prison begins taking in prisoners today,” he said.

“We have serious concerns that Sodexo’s apparent failure to comply with the Award does not bode well for ongoing compliance with the five-year contract it has with the state of Western Australia to run Melaleuca.

“The union has concerns that Sodexo management are ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with the demands of running a maximum-security prison for women.”

Mr Welch said the union had no choice but to take Sodexo to the Fair Work Commission.