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.
Prisons Services, Economic Policy
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 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.
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.
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.
The CSC/ACV and CGSP/ACOD unions representing prison workers have taken strike action in protest at government plans to legislate on limiting their right to strike. EPSU sent a solidarity message to the unions highlighting the deteriorating conditions and overcrowding in prisons across the country and the importance of having the right to strike to highlight the need for urgent action to address these problems and reverse the impact of austerity. Rather than attack trade union rights, EPSU argues that the federal government should open negotiations to tackle the critical situation facing the
The three main prison officer unions - FSC-CCOO, FeSPUGT and ACAIP - organised a 15-minute stoppage in 84 institutions across the country on 22 May in protest at the violence used against demonstrating prison guards earlier in the month. The three unions had coordinated a series of protests across the country to call for negotiations over pay and working conditions. The demonstrations were carried out peacefully but in Morón in southern Spain police used violence to break up the protest resulting in 20 injuries, including one very serious.
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
The FNV trade union for prison staff has called for an urgent meeting with prison service management to discuss the implications of a new report on staffing, safety and treatment of inmates. The union believes that the report, "Out of Balance", by the Justice and Security Inspectorate provides further evidence of its concerns over excessive workloads and inadequately trained staff. The union now wants the prison service to discuss permanent measures to tackle these problems building on the temporary arrangements that were agreed last year by the justice department and central works council.
Following a meeting with the justice minister, the prisons section of the GÖD public service union has announced that the government is committed to create 75 new jobs and 100 training places to tackle the excessive workloads faced across the prison service. The talks also discussed the prospects for a quicker and more effective process for appointing prison staff and a plan for an expert study of the sector that would assist in drawing up standard safety guidelines.