Prison staff unions in Belgium, France and Spain have been taking or are planning industrial action or demonstrations over staffing and pay. In France, the unions have raised concerns about prison overcrowding, violence against staff, the need for a significant increase in prison officer numbers and improvements to pay and conditions. After failing to get a satisfactory response from the justice ministry, the unions are calling for an extension of the action across the country. In Belgium, the issue is the failure of the government to adhere to a 2016 agreement on staffing levels and further action is planned over several dates in January and early February. Spanish unions are planning a national day of action on 24 February over staff shortages, pay and, in particular, major and unjustified differences in pay for the same job in different institutions.
Unions take action over prison staffing levels and pay
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Members of the CGSP/ACOD and SLPF/VSOA trade unions took industrial action in prisons across the country between Thursday 27 and Saturday 29 May. The unions are calling for an increasing in staffing and will consider further action if there is no response from the prison service. Read more at > Le Soir news website (FR) And at > Knack news website (NL)
Trade unions (ACV/CSC and ACOD/CGSP) organised a national strike in the prisons service on 12 December in protest at underfunding, badly maintained buildings, lack of staff, overcrowding and the resulting safety issues arising from this deteriorating situation. Understaffing has lead to many employees doing extra hours and a massive number of hours of overtime that remains to be recouped. The unions also have issues with contracts, provision of uniforms and a lack of strategy in the justice system. It is estimated that prisons currently hold around 10000 in mates, exceeding capacity by 1700.
The OSYE prison services union took six days of strike action at the end of February and beginning of March over key demands on safety and staffing. The union is particularly concerned about staff on long working hours and the massive backlog of rest days and holidays that are owed to workers who have done extra shifts to compensate for understaffing. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.