As violence at correctional centres across B.C. continues to escalate, a recent incident at a Surrey correctional centre demonstrates once again the need for management to take seriously staff concerns over safety, and for WorkSafeBC to better address unsafe working conditions and violence in prisons.
On Tuesday July 10th an attack took place against a correctional supervisor at Surrey Pretrial Correctional Centre in which the supervisor was assaulted, and then sent to hospital for treatment. This incident occurred following actions taken by frontline correctional officers and supervisors to communicate concerns and recommendations to management in an effort to address workplace safety issues. Management has failed to address these concerns.
"What deeply concerns me about situations like this is sometimes you have internal managers making decisions with very little to sometimes no frontline experience dealing with inmates, or the specific inmate dynamics on the living units," says Dean Purdy, BCGEU Component 1 Vice President. "I have heard loud and clear that our members, the correctional officers and supervisors do not feel safe."
Component 1 representatives will continue to lobby WorkSafeBC to address unsafe working conditions and violence in prisons. The component will also provide further education to frontline officers on Section 3.12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation – the right to refuse unsafe work. If a manager is making decisions that make you feel unsafe, you have the right as a worker in British Columbia to refuse unsafe work.
In a recent meeting between representatives from component 1, provincial Crown counsel and corrections branch management, the vital role correctional officers and supervisors play in the justice system was discussed, and a follow-up meeting is planned.
Component 1 vice president Dean Purdy and local 104 chair/ component 1 1st vice chair Brandon Cox will be meeting with the warden from Surrey Pretrial Correction Centre next week.
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