Dozens of people have turned up to a rally in Brisbane’s CBD to protest against a prison officer being suspended from duty after raising safety concerns.
Dozens of angry unionists at a Brisbane rally have vowed to continue fighting for a prison officer who was suspended after blowing the whistle on safety concerns.
The rally comes about three weeks after Kylie Muscat, a union delegate employed at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional centre, was stood down after making allegations about understaffing when a fellow prison officer was bashed.
In the Federal Court the union sought an injunction to have Ms Muscat’s employment reinstated.
But the court found the injunction wasn’t necessary because her employers, The GEO Group who manage the prison, gave an undertaking to keep paying Ms Muscat until her case is heard in the Federal Court next year.
Ms Muscat remains suspended on full pay.
A crowd of about 150 unionists descended on the State Law Building in Brisbane’s CBD on Thursday morning.
United Voice is concerned that increases in prisoner numbers and a lack of resources have led to increased tensions at the correctional centre.
United Voice state secretary Gary Bullock told the crowd the privatisation of state prisons was leading to understaffing and jeopardising officer safety.
“We’re here to let the department know, we’re here to let (Premier) Campbell Newman know, that it’s not good enough,” he said.
Ms Muscat is unable to comment on her own case because the proceedings are ongoing. But she stood beside several speakers wearing sunglasses and a black cloth over her mouth.
Mr Bullock told the rally that in the weeks after this year’s state government imposed a ban on smoking in Queensland prisons, assaults on prison guards skyrocketed.
There were 289 such assaults in April, he said.
He detailed specific incidents, including one in which a guard was slashed across the face with a blade and suffered permanent nerve damage.
Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told the rally a future Labor government would reinstate workers’ rights and conditions.
“We know most of the trampling of industrial relations conditions lies squarely at the feet of (Attorney-General) Jarrod Bleijie and Campbell Newman,” she said.
After the rally, Mr Bullock told reporters Ms Muscat had seen conditions deteriorate over her eight years at the Arthur Gorrie facility.
“She’s seeing her workmates come into work fit and healthy, and go out in an ambulance,” he said.
“That’s not right.”