‘Disgusted’ WA prison workers locked in for pay fight
Guards at WA’s biggest jail — the privately-run Acacia Prison — have joined nurses and cops in voting to launch industrial action in a bid to secure a bigger pay rise.
The WA Prison Officers Union will on Monday discuss what action to take at the medium-security prison in Wooroloo, which the State Government contracts Serco to manage.
Unlike nurses and police officers, whose salaries are set by Government, guards at Acacia are at loggerheads with Serco over their wages and conditions.
WA Prison Officers Union secretary Andy Smith said Serco had offered a three-year deal with a 3 per cent pay rise for this year and next, followed by 2.5 per cent in 2024.
In addition, he said Serco proposed a $2500 payment, comprised of a $1000 one-off backpay and a $1500 sign-on bonus.
The offer, which is below what guards working in the public sector will be offered, was strongly rejected in a ballot of about 300 Acacia guards last Wednesday and Thursday.
By comparison, the McGowan Government’s wages policy for all government workers is the greater of a 3 per cent or $3120 boost to base salary, as well as a $3000 cost-of-living bonus.
The dispute at Acacia is likely to be a precursor to wider industrial action at other prisons, with the union rejecting the Government’s wages policy, which has been revised three times this year.
Mr Smith said the union had yet to receive a formal offer from the Government but its membership was already “prepared and ready” to take similar action to nurses and cops.
“We are prepared to take equal action. We are just as disgusted with the Government policy,” he said.
“We supported the Government through inheriting the deficit and then COVID. We were told that when the Government was in a better position the wages policy would be substantially better.
“But 3 per cent is not substantially better compared to the 7.4 per cent inflation rate in WA.”
The union is also pushing for the Department of Justice to reinstate a policy which allowed guards to purchase additional annual leave.
Serco said it was unable to provide a comment by deadline. Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston, who is also responsible for industrial relations, was approached for comment.
A month of action by the WA Police Union starts on Monday with officers leaving their work-issued mobile phones at the station when clocking off and refusing to answer calls and emails outside their rostered hours.
The Australian Nursing Federation WA moves into the second week of its industrial action campaign, with a ban on nurses and midwives working overtime due to begin on Wednesday.