Work Environment Survey results show urgent need for changes in Sheriff Services and Corrections

The Work Environment Survey (WES) results were released last week and your union has received emails from Component 1 members voicing their concerns about the survey results.

The low WES scores in both Corrections and Sheriff Services point to what the BCGEU has been saying for years: there is a poisonous work environment, chronically low staff morale and other significant problems that must be addressed. These problems concern workload, stress, staffing levels, salaries, and job satisfaction.

These same issues have been brought up at the 3.2 Union/Management meetings, the provincial 3.1 Provincial Joint Union/Management meetings, at the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General Article 29 Committee meetings, as well as separate meetings with the employer.

In 2009, 2011, 2013 and again in 2015 our members voluntarily took part in the WES survey. The Public Service Agency says WES results are a way to diagnose the work environment and show senior government officials what changes need to be made at particular worksites to improve the work environment and the productivity of the workplace.

“Senior management have hammered home the message that times have changed, repeatedly stating the old ways of doing business are gone, and that they are bringing in a new, modern, progressive way to manage that involves staff participation and employee engagement,” says Dean Purdy, BCGEU Vice President Corrections and Sheriff Services – Component 1. “Our members would like to buy into this philosophy but are starting to have doubts.”

The WES scores at several prisons, already low in previous WES surveys, are down even more: Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (down 22 points), Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (down 10), and Nanaimo Correctional Centre (down 4). With a WES score of 45, North Fraser Pretrial Centre continues to have the lowest score of all provincial prisons. The Prince George Regional Correctional Centre (WES score 50) continues to have the second lowest score of the provincial prisons. These chronic low scores are of particular concern to our union.

The WES scores in Sheriff Services continue to be very low with an overall score of 49. Some key areas such as executive level management and staffing practices are concerning and these low scores point to chronic, systemic problems in the Sheriff Services that must be addressed.

Both Corrections and Sheriffs had low scores on compensation. This is an area that is in the employers control with the current benchmark reviews now in the final stages.

Your Component Executive has engaged the employer and we are willing to work to make the workplace better for all members in Component 1.  The troubling WES survey results will be discussed when our union senior leadership meets with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Dean Purdy

BCGEU Vice President Corrections and Sheriff Services – Component 1