Prison guards vow to fight

SOLIDARITY: Over 170 Port Augusta Prison staff rallied in Gladstone Square on Monday to fight the state government's plan to privatise the Adelaide Remand Centre and other public services.
SOLIDARITY: Over 170 Port Augusta Prison staff rallied in Gladstone Square on Monday to fight the state government's plan to privatise the Adelaide Remand Centre and other public services.

Correctional Officers from the Port Augusta Prison stood in solidarity with their Adelaide counterparts on Monday in a bid to fight Adelaide Remand Centre privatisation plans.

97 per cent of the work force walked off the job and took to Gladstone Square as prisoners were put into lockdown.

In line with the South Australian Employment Tribunal orders that minimum levels of staffing be maintained during the lockdown, 18 staff members remained on site at the Port Augusta facility. 

The Public Service Association’s Neville Kitchin said the protest was about more than the privatisation of the Remand Centre.

“It’s about the bigger issue of privatisation across the public sector,” Mr Kitchin said.

“The rally was about he proposal to privatise pathology, medical imaging and we believe other areas of government.

“It won’t just be the Adelaide Remand Centre, we believe their goal will be to privatise all of the existing public prisons in South Australia.”

The protest comes after Premier Steven Marshall said he did not have a "privatisation agenda" during a pre-election debate.

But treasurer Rob Lucas has denied it was a broken promise and said they were always prepared to consider outsourcing where it was in the taxpayer's interest to do so.

Member for Giles, Labor’s Eddie Hughes was in attendance at Gladstone Square and had a few choice words for the treasurer.

“I think that’s absolutely nonsense. Rob Lucas was the person who drove the privatisation of ETSA and that hasn’t exactly had a happy ending,” he said.

“The Liberals always say privatisation is the panacea, the solution. The history of privatisation in a lot of instances is that it’s not the solution.”

“We need our prison systems, our police and a whole range of other services to be retained in public hands because there is a long term public interest at stake and when you get the private sector involved in those areas of government, it will over time degrade the quality of the service.”

Mr Kitchin echoed the sentiments of Mr Hughes and said he has already heard from PSA members across the state who are tightening their belts in anticipation of further privatisation.

“The only way that you make money out of a private prison is by diminishing the conditions of employment, the wages and the conditions of the workers – that’s the way that you save money and that will be the game plan,” he said

“That will have a flow on effect into the community of the regional towns because for every position lost within the public sector is a flow on effect into the private sector of positions lost.”

Mr Kitchin said that although they have a range of other actions planned in protest of the privatisation agenda, they will be keeping tight lipped.

“We won’t be giving the government any heads up with what we are proposing, in the same way we believe that they have misinformed us,” he said.