Covid-19: Prison staff strikes to suspend unsupervised visits
Tuesday, 06 October 2020
Unions are in the midst of a 48-hour prison strike due to the unfavourable response of the Directorate General of Penitentiary Institutions (DG EPI) to the request to suspend unsupervised visits.
The General Confederation of Public Services (CGSP – ACOD) had asked DG EPI to suspend unsupervised visits in prisons pending a meeting with the new Minister of Justice, to no avail according to CGSP – ACOD’s Gino Hoppe.
Unsupervised visits present an increased risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to Hoppe, who added that “this causes unrest among staff but also among inmates.”
The coronavirus crisis had led to the containment measures in prisons from 13 March. Since the end of May, some visiting places have reopened under strict hygienic conditions. This measure has been followed by a further relaxation. The prison administration stressed that it was still implementing the instructions of the National Security Council.
The strike, which runs from 5 October at 10:00 PM to 7 October at 10:00 PM, is being led by the CGSP-ACOD, but the action is supported by the CSC-ACV, trade unionist Alain Blancke said.
He also announced that a meeting with DG EPI is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Due to the strike, police reinforcing guards in the prisons of Bruges, Ghent and Forest. Since the introduction of a minimum service during a social movement in the prisons, a minimum number of staff must be present. That number varies from one institution to another.
CGSP-ACOD trade unionist Gino Hoppe stressed Tuesday morning that the strike is “very well followed in all the prisons.”