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Prison staff strike in Hasselt

Credit: Belga

Prison staff in Hasselt are striking for 24 hours over a shortage of guards and workers in technical departments, according to the Prison Service.

The Prison Service acknowledges the staffing shortages facing the system right now, reports Belga News Agency.

The shortages come at a time when the prison system is already overwhelmed with crowding and funding issues.

In an annual report published by the Central Supervision Board for the Prison System, it was noted that “a lot of problems and inconveniences for management, prison staff, and for detainees” are the direct result of pressure on prison capacity in Flanders.

There have also been issues with outbreaks of the coronavirus at prisons, adding additional risks to the job.

The prison staff in Hasselt went on strike on Thursday evening at 10:00 PM and will continue until Friday at 10:00 PM.

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“We are doing everything we can, both contractually and statutorily, to recruit people to make up for the shortage as quickly as possible,” Kathleen Van De Vijver, spokesperson for the Prison Service, told media.

“But we are also experiencing a shortage on the labour market, so the places are not filled quickly enough.”

During the 24 hours strike, there will be no police presence in the Hasselt prison and a minimum staffing level.

The Hasselt prison currently has 551 inmates (517 men and 34 women).

The Brussels Times

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