Prison staff send united message to Labor and the Justice Department on wages

Friday 06 Oct 2023

More than 1900 members of the WA Prison Officers’ Union (WAPOU) have voted in the latest ballot on wages with 94.5% choosing to accept the State Government’s offer.

The latest wage offer aligns with what all other public servants have received, which is 3% pay rise per annum over two years.

The 3% was never a worthy offer, but members were pleased the agreement puts a stop to the attacks on prison officers’ terms and conditions and has managed to improve them.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary Andy Smith said the latest offer was a welcomed improvement.
“The previous offer contained several conditions that the department and this government tried to take away from members. When you combine that with the dismal government wage offer, our members rightly rejected it in record numbers,” Mr Smith said.

“This latest offer still contains the 3%, which is another drop in wages in real terms, however the strength and unity shown by our members has meant that this government has had to abandon their attempts to take terms and conditions from prison officers.

“The high response rate should not be mistaken to be an endorsement of the government’s wage offer or that this is a good offer. This high return rate is a clear message to this government that the attacks on prison officer terms and conditions need to stop.

“It also a clear message that the attack on prison officer’s wages and the former Minister, Bill Johnston lead attack on conditions such as personal leave, public holidays, paid parental leave, and the constant wage theft has to stop.

“Prisons are suffering a staffing crisis, which has been driving down prisoner unlock hours, resulting in little to no prisoner employment or even education at most prisons across the state. Add to this the rapidly rising prison muster, increasing staff injury rates, high prisoner tension and the forecasted hot summer, we have a perfect storm brewing.

“Why would staff that work in one of the most stressful and violent industries in Australia continue to do the great work they do with all this coming at them and the department burying its head in the sand ignoring this crisis and attacking the few conditions that prison officers have.

“In my 14 years with WAPOU I have never seen such high response rates in a ballet and such a united and motivated membership. The prison service like many other public services is struggling at the neglect of this Labor Government. It needs to get back to real negotiation with its workers to deal with the growing list of issues in most public sector organisations or face massive industrial unrest over the coming year,” he said.

Media contact: Rebecca Munro