Prison union wins public holiday pay fight in court

Friday 06 Oct 2023

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has won a fight in the Industrial Magistrate’s Court after a prison officer was refused public holiday pay.

It is the second win in court in the last few months following two years of attacks on officer’s conditions by theDepartment of Corrective Services.

The prison officer was originally hired under the agreement that she would not have to work public holidays. As instructed, she showed up for work on the King’s Birthday Public Holiday last year but was only paid under the rate of a normal working day.

The court found the Department of Corrective Services had breached the agreement and concluded the work she performed on the day was in excess of her rostered hours.
The Department was ordered to pay the prison officer the difference between the public holiday rate and her normal hourly rate.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary Andy Smith said the court’s decision is a testament to the dedication and unwavering fight of the union in protecting officers’ rights and conditions.

“This is just another example of how the Department is attacking staff conditions, conditions that they are entitled to,” Mr Smith said.

“It is disappointing prison officers aren’t listened to and that these incidents have to be escalated to court for the Department to do the right thing.

“This is happening under Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston. It just doesn’t make sense to attack staff conditions, when we all know we need to focus on attracting and retaining staff to the profession.

“The Department continues to ignore the fact that prison populations are at their highest and staffing levels are at near record lows.

“Of particular concern in this case is the lengths that this Department is willing to go to and this is highlighted in the report where the Magistrate identifies that the evidence of the acting superintendent was of no use and was contradicted by the actual evidence on several occasions.

“This victory is not just for our union members, but for every prison officer who dedicates their life to ensuring the safety of our communities. All officers deserve their basic conditions and shouldn’t have to go to these lengths to fight for what they are entitled to.

“This treatment is only going to see more prison officers leave the job and ultimately create unsafe prisons.”

Court decision:
Media contact: Rebecca Munro