Unions vow to fight jail 'cell-off'

UNIONS have vowed to fight the possible privatisation of the Grafton Jail until the idea is dead.

Earlier this year the Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham told a parliamentary inquiry consideration was being given to the construction of a 600-bed privately run jail in Grafton.

Yesterday, in a public rally in Grafton's Market Square, unions unilaterally opposed the 'cell off' of jails.

Public Service Association organiser Stuart Little told the 100 or more people at the rally that unions would stand 'shoulder to shoulder in this fight'.

Members of the Police Association, the Corrective Services Teachers Association, the NSW Nurses Association, the United Services Union, ambulance officers and firefighters were all at the rally to lend support.

Grafton Prison Officers Vocational Branch chairman Richard Woelfl said there were about 160 people employed at the jail and many were worried about their jobs.

He said if the jail was privatised the current staff would have the choice of working for a private company - probably for less money, taking redundancy or moving.

“It is all about the community and taking jobs away from Grafton,” he said.

He said prison officers were concerned about the training provided to officers working in a private facility and that insufficient resources would be committed to prisoner rehabilitation.

“We're hoping to stop inmates being warehoused for profits,” he said.

NSW prison officers will strike for 24 hours on April 2.

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