Mixed verdict from jail job info session
THE PROSPECT of casual work at Grafton jail has provoked a glass half full or glass half empty response from about 60 people who attended an information session at the prison yesterday.
The NSW Department Justice has advertised there is casual and ongoing work at the jail, but has not indicated the amount of work available and how much is permanent and how much is casual.
The government downsized the jail to a remand centre in 2012, but re-opened it for general use last year in response to rising prisoner numbers around the state.
For Grafton ex-army job seeker Chris Stewart, a casual job at the jail is a career opportunity.
"I've just been discharged from the army and this sort of work would suit me," he said.
"It doesn't matter if I only get a shift or two, I'm just starting out so I don't expect to get six shifts a week."
But for someone like Jamie Irwin, whose last job was a traffic controller for the RMS at the Devil's Pulpit section of the Pacific Highway upgrade, a few casual shifts just didn't cut it.
His experience of casual work as a traffic controller made him wary.
"I've got a mortgage to pay and food to put on the table for my family," he said.
"They're talking two, three or even six months before you even know if you are going to get your first shift."
Mr Irwin said the information session was informative, "quite good" otherwise.
The casualisation of the work force was a worry for Peter Smith, from South Grafton.
He wondered why the department took on so many people for a limited amount of work.
"Surely it would be better to hire a few permanent staff for the work that's available," he said.
"They can just put people on when there's work and put them off when it's gone. It's just a win/win for them."
Yesterday department staff briefed job seekers on the requirements and training needed for the job, which included 10 weeks' paid training in Sydney for successful applicants.
Applicants can apply at www.jobs.nsw.gov.au.