UPDATE: Striking prison staff have been ordered back to work following a ruling by the Industrial Relations Commission.
A Corrective Services NSW spokesperson said the department was disappointed with the walk-off.
Ten Tamworth prison staff participated in the strike earlier today.
“We believe this industrial action is unnecessary and welcome the Industrial Relations Commission’s ruling that staff return to work,” a spokesperson said.
We are disappointed by today’s action as the parties have to date participated in cooperative discussions, at the local and central levels and have also used the Industrial Relations Commission to assist.
The department said no decisions on job changes had been made yet and consultation was ongoing.
“We have been putting arrangements in place to maintain security, and provide meals and attend to the medical needs of inmates, as this situation unfolds, a spokesperson said.
“We thank all staff who will be working this weekend to keep our prisons safe.”
EARLIER: TAMWORTH prison officers walked off the job on Friday afternoon in a show of statewide solidarity against job cuts.
Ten staff at the Tamworth Correctional Centre went on strike in the afternoon, while four staff planned to take similar action on the night shift.
The same action was planned for Saturday too.
Public Service Association (PSA) NSW North West organiser Stephen Mears said the action was in response to a proposed “drastic reduction of staff in jails across the state”.
Prison officers are expected to strike for 48 hours across the state, to ensure the government gets the message that job cuts are unsafe.
Stewart Little, general secretary of the PSA, said "the New South Wales prison system is in crisis”.
“There has been a complete failure by the government to adequately plan and manage for the growing population, following tighter bail laws in 2014,” Mr Little said.
"NSW's prison system is designed for 11,000, but the population is fast reaching 14,000. The prison guard to inmate ratio at one guard for every 14 inmates, but proposed budget cuts will see this rise to one in 16.
“At the same time, we are already seeing assaults on prison officers rising by 20 per cent, while inmate violence has trebled in the last three years.”
"Despite our prisons reaching breaking point and the productivity commission confirming NSW is the worst performing state, the government has decided to start sacking workers, putting everyone at risk.
"Prison officers have one of the toughest jobs imaginable. How any government could propose, in good conscience, to make their lives tougher and more dangerous is beyond me."
Corrections Minister David Elliott will comment on the unauthorised strike action in NSW prisons today at 3.45pm
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