Component 1 meet with senior WCB officials - Corrections violence now in WCB hands

On Monday, BCGEU representatives met with senior WorkSafeBC officials to discuss the dramatic increase in violence inside all nine provincial jails.

Representing the union was BCGEU Vice President & Chair of Component 1 Dean Purdy, Component 2nd Vice Chair Brian Campbell, component executive member Brandon Cox, and Staff Representative Mike Eso.

The issues raised at the meeting include:

•    Current violence statistics
•    Inmate-to-officer ratios
•    Change of inmate profile & demographics (gangs)
•    Accident & risk assessment recommendations inconsistencies
•    ASP batons & microwaves

We presented our concerns regarding the increase in violence, both inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-officer. We pointed out that Corrections Branch statistics show violent incidents increased 42% between 2014 and 2015, and inmate on officer assaults increased by 39% during that same period.

Purdy relayed the frustration both the union and its members have over the increase in violence against officers. He also pointed out that even though WorkSafeBC wrote 58 orders against the Corrections Branch in 2013 for serious health and safety violations, the levels of violence are out of control and the situation is far worse than it was a few years ago.
"We were pleased with the meeting and are hopeful WorkSafeBC will be able to help us reduce the inmate-to-officer ratios to manageable levels or increase staffing levels so that two officers are on duty in all living units at all times. The ball is in their court now. If something isn’t done, we feel it’s just a matter of time before we see a fatality of one of our officers," said Purdy.
The union has requested all pertinent statistics from WorkSafeBC including time loss figures due to incidents of violence.

The union will be waiting to hear back from WorkSafeBC on what plans they have to help us address the concerns we raised.

Click here for a copy of the letter requesting this meeting with WorkSafeBC.

More on the Ombudsperson's report here.