Uncertainty continues for prison staff

The 103-year-old Invercargill Prison, on the northwestern edge of the city centre. Photo by...
Invercargill Prison, on the northwestern edge of the city centre. Photo: Allison Rudd.
Invercargill prison staff have a sword of Damocles hanging over them, the Corrections Association of New Zealand says.

The trade union’s vice-president Paul Dennehy on Friday said the Department of Corrections had still not provided a proposal regarding Invercargill Prison.

The Otago Daily Times reported last year the Department of Corrections was making changes, but the department would not confirm it was investigating turning the Invercargill Prison into a remand centre only, or if other options were being investigated.

Corrections acting southern regional commissioner Chris O’Brien-Smith said last year any changes at Invercargill Prison would be made with the consideration of the prisoner foremost in mind, and no staff would lose their jobs.

The catalyst for change was a reduction in prison numbers, she said.

Mr Dennehy said on Friday he had heard "not a dickybird from the department".

"We’re just going to wait and see in terms of what they’re going to do. We’re not going to keep chasing them for stuff.

"It’s a terrible situation to deal with people’s lives but it’s par for the course for the department."

He said the lack of communication had created uncertainty for staff.

"So they’re leaving people in limbo as to whether the site will close down, will it partially close down, is it going to affect my job and my family?

"They effectively have a [sword of] Damocles hanging over them with no sort of — certainly with no certainty but not even a document to consult, to say here’s the department’s proposal, what’s the union’s counter," Mr Dennehy said.


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