Cuts may mean more Lotus Glen walkouts
STAFF at Lotus Glen prison are concerned by further cutbacks and are ready to walk out again if necessary, a senior union representative says.
About 230 prison officers walked off the job at the Mareeba jail on Thursday in protest at proposed cuts to workshop hours by the State Government.
The jail was forced into lockdown for several hours and police were left to patrol its perimeters while emergency industrial relations talks, which saw officers forced back to work later that night, were held.
Five jails had been targeted in the announcement, with Lotus Glen and Rockhampton's Capricornia jail staff walking out.
Together Union's state secretary for corrections Norm Jacobson, who is also a prison officer at Lotus Glen, said staff felt vindicated after the Industrial Relations Commissioner said he could understand staff being upset at the Government's handling of proposed restructures.
However, he said this was unlikely to be the end of disputes.
"Everyone's extremely happy with what was done (at the tribunal) and everyone's extremely committed to continuing the fight," he said.
"We'll fight as long as we need to."
The announcement from Police Minister Jack Dempsey's office saw a scaling back of industry workshops including metal fabrication and tailoring in the five state correctional centres.
Staff are concerned that winding industry operation hours back from seven days a week to five will likely spark job losses.
However, a spokesman from Mr Dempsey's office said all those affected by the cuts were qualified prison officers and would be offered these positions at each facility.
"Each of them will have a job if they want it," the spokesman said.
"It's up to them if they want to go back to a 40-hour roster.
"The industries in which they worked, the demand just wasn't there."
Mr Jacobson also said there was major concern over the rehabilitation of prisoners if there were cuts to areas where they were employed.
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Upset: Lotus Glen was in lockdown on Thursday as prison officers protested against cutbacks.