16 Apr 2009

Prison officers walk out of meetings on double bunking

7:04 pm on 16 April 2009

Prison officers at two of New Zealand's newest prisons have walked out of meetings to discuss double bunking for prisoners, the Corrections Association says.

The Corrections Department is negotiating with the two unions representing prison officers, as it seeks to provide for increased double bunking at the four newest prisons.

The meetings, so far held only at Springhill Prison in North Waikato and the Auckland's Women's Prison, were to provide staff with information and hear their concerns.

The department says it has undertaken to ensure the staff to prisoner ratio is maintained in any unit that is double bunked.

One of the prison officer unions, the Corrections Association, says double bunking of cells designed for only one inmate is of grave concern as it increases the risks for staff.

Association president Beven Hanlon said the department cannot enforce the proposal if it is deemed to be unsafe.

Mr Hanlon says prison guards believe double bunking will jeopardise their safety and under New Zealand law, no boss has the right to make an employee's job more dangerous.