Antwerp jail guards continue strike action
Updated 19 October 2005
BRUSSELS — Antwerp jail wardens voted on Tuesday to continue their three-week strike despite an offer from Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx to recruit another 20 guards.
The minister gave the promise during talks with unions on Monday night in a bid to end the bitter industrial dispute at the prison.
Union representatives presented the proposal to jail staff on Tuesday, but wardens rejected the offer and opted to continue their strike action.
Prior to the vote, unions believed Onkelinx’s offer would put an end to the dispute, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Tuesday.
During Monday night’s talks, it was discovered that instead of 14, a total of 20 new guards were needed to boost staff numbers to the required 260.
At the start of October, Onkelinx had promised to recruit 10 permanent employees and 15 contractual workers.
Due to the fact the prison’s recruitment reserve has been exhausted, the minister said she would use an unusual procedure to employ the new staff, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.
Candidates who recently sent in an application — about 50 — would have been contacted in coming days. Those considered adequate could have started work within 14 days.
However, unions had also lodged a proposal on Tuesday morning in which restricted services would be offered prisoners until the personnel shortage is resolved.
Guards wanted to adjust daily walks afforded to prisoners to the number of jail staff available and restrict visitations to behind-glass visits.
Minister Onkelinx temporarily refused to give a definite answer to the proposal, prompting the wardens to extend their strike.
Initially published 18 October 2005
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news