Some 2000 agitated members of the West Australian Prison Officers Union (WAPOU), dismayed over how the state government continued to stall their back pay wage dispute, has called a snap 24-hour strike on Friday morning, effectively abandoning their posts at 13 public prisons across WA.
"Sadly WA prison officers have felt the need to take industrial action because of the inadequate response from government over many, many months to our claims for a better pay deal," John Welch, WA Prison Officers Union secretary, said.
Unfortunately though, the strike of the prison officers has disrupted the trial of high-profile bikie Troy Mercanti, accused of allegedly assaulting five times and causing grievous bodily harm to Tammy Kingdon, his former partner and mother of his two children. The offenses allegedly occurred between 1997 and 2012 giving 36-year-old Ms Kingdon a fractured eye socket, a missing tooth, two sets of broken ribs and a serious cut to her face.
But Ian Johnson, Western Australia's Corrective Services Commissioner, told ABC Radio they have placed contingency plans as well as utilized back-up workers so as to ensure the state's 13 public prisons operate despite the labour strike.
"It's not like this happens and we all run around and go 'Geez what are we going to do?'," he said.
"We've actually got contingency plans which are well advanced in the event of a withdrawal of labour, even though this is certainly a rarity and in my eight years it's never happened."
Members of WAPOU want a 14 per cent over three years pay rise, the same percentage that the Australian Nurses Federation members were able to corner on Sunday.
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