(HAMILTON) – Negotiations over a return-to-work protocol at Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre have stalled over management’s demand that correctional officers be disciplined and absorb a ‘no work, no pay’ penalty while the affected workers refuse to perform their duties citing safety issues.
“Our members continue to show up for work and request to wear their protective vests but management says they won’t be allowed to report to their posts until disciplinary measures are meted out,” said Dan Sidsworth, who represents correctional officers for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, including more than 200 members of Local 248 at HWDC.
“We find management’s position entirely unacceptable,” he added. “Management refuses to allow them to wear protective vesting while conducting searches for dangerous objects. This is a health and safety issue and it won’t be resolved until management sees it in that light.”
Correctional officers inside Ontario’s 29 correctional facilities, some 3000 in all, are today wearing their own protective vests in a show of solidarity with their colleagues at HWDC.
“As long as disciplinary measures hang over the heads of our members in Hamilton-Wentworth and there are threats to their safety from inmates, then this dispute is going to drag out for some time yet,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The fact that thousands of correctional officers across Ontario today are wearing their own protective vests as a show of support says to me the problems being experienced in Hamilton-Wentworth are commonplace in facilities across Ontario and it’s time the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services acted to improve conditions.”
The dispute at HWDC started late last week when management at the facility refused the correctional officers’ request to don vests while searching for a metal object that had gone missing.