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Employees Lose Pay While Offenders Sleep

Wednesday 15 October 2003

Employees Lose Pay While Offenders Sleep

“Negotiations between NUPE Work Party Supervisors and the Department of Corrections have broken down as the employer appears to be trying to accommodate the low compliance level of sentenced offenders into our Collective Employment Agreement,” Janice Gemmell, Organiser for the National Union of Public Employees said today. Work Party Supervisors supervise offenders doing community work under the 2002 Sentencing Act (former Periodic Detention).

“Ironically it’s a case of Hard Labour - Soft Sentences,” says Janice Gemmell. “Work Party Supervisors do the hard labour while those sentenced are not even bothering to turn up.”

“Work Party Supervisors report to us that compliance for community work is only around 40% nationally. That means 60% of those sentenced not turning up. A sentenced offender can fail to turn up for weeks before they are breached. In some areas of the country the Department has been reportedly sending sentenced offenders home because it is raining instead of ensuring they do their community work. The community work sentence is the last sentence before prison yet it is plainly not being enforced.”

“The problem for Work Party Supervisors is that when the offenders do not turn up, the Department just send home the staff employed to supervise them that day. The staff should be used to encourage compliance or to do other outstanding work. In the past they would have driven round and got offenders out of bed,” says Janice Gemmell.

Janice Gemmell said that a Work Party Supervisor is rostered to work 9 hours a day yet the department can send them home and only pay them for three hours. “It is unacceptable that instead of chasing up offenders they send home employees. Rather than getting offenders out of bed to do their sentence, the Department seems to prefer saving on wages by sending our Work Party Supervisors home. Work Party Supervisors just want to know what they will earn each week just like other Permanent staff and get treated the same as other employees within the Department. Many Work Party Supervisors have over a decade’s service.”

“The Community Work sentence is failing and the cost of the failure is being borne by Work Party Supervisors and not the Department of Corrections,” says Janice Gemmell. “If truly serious about sentencing, the Government needs to ensure that sufficient resources are available to ensure compliance.”


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