Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Darwin prison guards strike over wages

About 60 corrections officers have walked off the job in Darwin over the Northern Territory government’s public sector pay freeze, a union says.

May 2, 2022

Dozens of prison guards have walked off the job in Darwin over the Northern Territory government’s public sector pay freeze.

The protected 12-hour strike on Monday is also protesting alleged under-resourcing of the sector, United Workers Union NT says.

Corrections officers are in crisis due to a lack of resources and staff, UWU NT secretary Erina Early said in a statement.

Wage negotiations started in mid-2021 with workers demanding a three or more per cent annual pay rise to keep pace with cost-of-living increases.

Ms Early says the Gunner government has refused to accept the deal or address chronic short staffing.

“Pay freezes and wage offers well below inflation will see workers go backwards,” she said.

“I am afraid many of our skilled, essential services and emergency services workers will leave the NT.”

The NT government introduced a four-year pay freeze for more than 20,000 public servants in November 2020 in a bid to save over $400 million amid ongoing deficits and climbing debt levels.

It was accepted by 57 per cent of employees.

The Darwin Correctional Centre is a minimum to maximum-security prison for men and women. It has a capacity of about 1050 prisoners.

NT Correctional Services says it has contingency plans in place to ensure the security and safety of prisoners, workers and the community.

“Functions, including the delivery of meals, the administering of medication and attending to the medical needs of prisoners will continue,” a spokesman said.

Officers from the Alice Springs correctional centre will take industrial action on Thursday.

Monday is a public holiday for May Day in the NT.

The annual inflation rate in Australia surged to 5.1 per cent in the March quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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