5 April 2005
BRUSSELS – Employees at three Belgian prisons are continuing to strike after a dispute over working conditions last week.
Andenne, Huy and Lantin are maintaining their industrial action in a bid to force improved staff training provisions and better methods for dealing with problem prisoners.
The prison at the heart of the dispute, Ittre, called a halt to its strike on Monday after receiving assurances from Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx that action would be taken to improve the situation.
Guards at Ittre walked out last week when sanctions were lifted against three prisoners who has assisted a jail break.
Staff complained that management was not taking the difficulties of their working conditions seriously enough.
The note from Onkelinx’s cabinet pledged to guarantee the rights of prison guards and introduce four to six weeks of staff training on conflict resolution from January 2006.
Onkelinx has also promised to rewrite the statute for prison guards and revise the laws on disciplinary action against prisoners, said CGSP union leader Jean Lizen.
However, guards at Andenne, Huy and Lantin prisons are demanding further action from the government before they call off their industrial action.
Staff at Andenne are protesting about delays to building the psychiatric unit there and one prisoner in Lantin set fire to a mattress on Tuesday, the third case since last week.
The Socialist union held another meeting on Tuesday to try to resolve the problem.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news