Vancouver (30 June 2016) — On June 27, representatives of the B.C. Government and General Employees Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) met with senior WorkSafeBC officials to discuss the dramatic increase in violence inside all 9 provincial jails.
BCGEU/NUPGE pushes for action on increased violence in jails
Representing BCGEU/NUPGE was Dean Purdy, BCGEU Vice-President & Chair of Component 1, Brian Campbell, Component 2nd Vice-Chair, Brandon Cox, Component Executive member and Staff Representative Mike Eso.
The issues raised at the meeting include
• Current violence statistics
• Inmate-to-officer ratios
• Change of inmate profile & demographics (gangs)
• Accident & risk assessment recommendations
• ASP batons & microwaves
The BCGEU/NUPGE representatives presented the union's concerns regarding the increase in violence, both inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-officer. They pointed out that Corrections Branch statistics show violent incidents increased 42% between 2014 and 2015, and inmate-on-officer assaults increased by 39% during that same period.
Level of violence against officers higher
Purdy relayed the frustration both the union and its members have over the increase in violence against officers. He also pointed out that even though WorkSafeBC wrote 58 orders against the Corrections Branch in 2013 for serious health and safety violations, the levels of violence are out of control and the situation is far worse than it was a few years ago.
"We were pleased with the meeting and are hopeful WorkSafeBC will be able to help us reduce the inmate-to-officer ratios to manageable levels or increase staffing levels so that 2 officers are on duty in all living units at all times. The ball is in their court now. If something isn’t done, we feel it’s just a matter of time before we see a fatality of one of our officers," said Purdy.
BCGEU/NUPGE has requested all pertinent statistics from WorkSafeBC, including time loss figures due to incidents of violence. The union will be waiting to hear back from WorkSafeBC on what plans they have to help us address the concerns raised.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE