The ACAIP-UGT, CCOO, CIG y CSIF trade unions representing prison staff have met with the interior minister and head of the prison service to discuss progress with legislation foreseen for 2021. The new law should include several key demands that unions have been campaigning for in recent years. These include a reform of the prison system and harmonisation of jobs across the sector, along with a reclassification of certain posts in the public sector pay structure to reflect the complexity of tasks in prison staff occupations.
The three main trade unions - CGSP/ACOD, ACV/CSC and SLFP/VSOA - organised a 48-hour national strike from 6am on 24 September in protest at proposals to relax the rules on prisoner visits. The unions are extremely concerned that the proposed changes come at a time of increasing infection and pose a serious threat to staff and inmates.
Fighting covid19 in prisons and detention centres in Europe: Protected prison workers – protected inmates
Based primarily on reports provided by the EPSU prison services network, EPSU has put together an update on COVID-19 in Europe’s prisons and other detention centres, as well as five policy recommendations to protect prison workers and those under their care.
The EPSU network of unions organising prison staff met on 6 December to discuss latest trends and challenges as well as opportunities to bring visibility in newly elected EU Parliament to working conditions in prisons and trade union alternatives for positive change.
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 three prison unions - FeSP-UGT, ACAIP and FSC-CCOO - organised a demonstration in Madrid on 24 September to coincide with an event organised by the prison service management to celebrate their patron saint. The unions highlighted the urgent staff shortages - around 3000 across the service - and the daily attacks against prison workers. They also raised issues such as the lack of negotiations and unilateral decisions by management and the need for pay to properly reflect the demands of the job.
Prison unions, ACAIP, FeSP-UGT and FSC-CCOO, organised lunchtime protests outside every prison service establishment on 20 March. They were reacting to the knife attack on a member of staff at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid. The unions argue that prison service management is failing to take adequate action to tackle increasing violence across the service, noting that the prison service has been condemned by the Central Labour Inspectorate for failing to properly apply occupational health legislation.
The unions organising in the prisons sector - FSC-CCOO, ACAIP, FeSP-UGT and CSIF - continue to press the government to honour its original commitment to increase funding to the service. The unions organised a demonstration outside the General Directorate of Public Services on 18 February. They are particularly angry that the government withdrew its offer of EUR 123 million to cover pay rises for the 23000 workers in the sector over the period 2019-2021.
Prison sector unions have called on the government to immediately restart negotiations over pay following the latest of six days of strike action which have had strong nationwide support from prison workers. The unions began the action following the new socialist-led government's withdrawal of funding for a pay increase. The unions now want to see bargaining restart and have been critical of the authorities for aggressive tactics in the policing of pickets and demonstrations around the country.
The trade unions representing prison workers, including EPSU affiliates ACAIP-USO, FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT, are continuing their strike action over pay despite attempts by the prison service to get the action declared illegal. The unions reported massive support for the first two days of strike action on 25-26 October. Further action had already been planned for 10-13 November but the unions had to counter the legal challenge by the employers and so have agreed that the next four days of action will run from 17-20 November.