Minimum service in prisons: Unions to meet Justice Minister
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    Minimum service in prisons: Unions to meet Justice Minister

    A prison cell. Credit:© Wikipedia/ Steffano Mazzone

    Unions representing prison officers are scheduled to meet Justice Minister Koen Geens on Friday afternoon to express their disagreement with the regulation on minimum service in penitentiaries, the unions told Belga news agency.

    The unions – CGSP-AMiO, CSC Services publics and SLFP – were invited to give their opinion on the text proposed by the Government. They formulated their remarks and decided to confirm their disagreement at the meeting with the minister.

    The regulation on the minimum service in prisons was approved in Parliament in mid-March. The negotiations on the concrete application of this measure, especially with regard to the minimum number of persons to be deployed and for which tasks, began in early July.

    However, the unions have all criticised the text, which they describe as “hazy”.

    “We have no budget, no details on the practical organisation of the minimum service,” said Claudine Coupienne, permanent secretary of CSC Services publics. “That will not improve the working conditions of penitentiary staff and the situation of the inmates. Nothing has changed, except that the text deprives the officers of part of their trade union rights.”

    According to the SLFP (Syndicat Libre de la Fonction Publique) some prisons would even be required to operate with more officers in the event of a minimum service than on a normal day. “The minister wishes to try and eliminate the right to strike,” added the liberal union’s permanent secretary, Pascal Verhelst.

    La CGSP-AMiO (Centrale générale des Services Publics) said, for its part, that it was waiting for the official decree to be promulgated to file a complaint with the State Council. “We shall probably also contest the law at the Constitutional Court,” said the federation’s federal secretary, Michel Jacobs.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times