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Australia: MTC guards go on strike.

Guards to strike at Borallon Prison
February 8, 2004

INMATES at Borallon Correctional Centre near Ipswich will be placed in lockdown mode tomorrow and Tuesday as prison officers strike in support of increased wages and benefits.

Almost 500 low and medium security inmates at the privatised prison will be locked down and managed under a skeleton staff structure for two hours from 8am (AEST) tomorrow and on Tuesday, while members of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) rally for a pay increase.

The prison has been run by US firm Management and Training Corporation (MTC) since September 2000, under contract to the Queensland government.

About 150 prison officers, whose current enterprise agreement expired last month, are calling for a six per cent annual pay rise over the next two years in addition to paid parental leave and income protection.

LHMU Queensland private prisons coordinator Ron Simon said negotiations had began in August last year but had stalled with MTC offering an increase of just 1.9 per cent a year.

MTC was also attempting to reduce paid sick leave entitlements from eight to six days per year."Our concern is our people work 12 hour shifts, it is a fairly high profile industry that they work in," Mr Simon said.

"An eye is being kept on their ability to do their job, it is fairly stressful, we can't be a party to a reduction of community standards.

"Mr Simon said MTC blamed its inability to increase wages on its contract with the Queensland government.

"LHMU has heard all this before," Mr Simon said.

"We fight for our members and if a US company has to make less profit, so be it."Further talks between the LHMU and MTC are set for Wednesday.

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