European Parliament calls for better working conditions for prison staff and personnel

On October 5, the European Parliament plenary adopted a report on prison systems and conditions which emphasises the need for better employment and working conditions for prison staff as a precondition for safer, more secure and less tense conditions in prisons. As a European confederation with national trade unions with prison employees among their membership, CESI welcomes this report with several clear recommendations for action for the European Commission and the governments of the Member States.

European Parliament calls for better working conditions for prison staff and personnel

The report, which was adopted by a large majority of 474 to 109 votes (34 abstentions), underlines that “in many cases prison overcrowding has a serious impact on the safety of staff and prisoners”, which necessitates “a more secure environment for both prisoners and staff.”

The report is not legally binding but it stresses the importance of:

• “adequate remuneration” and “decent working conditions” which correspond to the “highly demanding job on behalf of the community” which prison staff perform (clause 51);

• a better social recognition and “systematic training” of prison staff to ensure secure and appropriate detention conditions in prisons (clause 52); and

• “the fundamental role of social dialogue with prison staff as well as the need to involve staff via information and consultation, especially when developing new detention concepts designed to improve prison systems and conditions” (clause 53). It specifically requests that the Member States “ensure regular dialogue between prisoners and prison staff” since “good working relationships between staff and prisoners are an essential element of dynamic security, in de-escalating potential incidents or in restoring good order through a process of dialogue” (clause 54).

The report has been transmitted for follow-up to the Council of the EU, the European Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Council of Europe.

Secretary General Klaus Heeger: Report reflects experiences of our prison staff affiliates

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “CESI highly appreciates this report, which reflects well the experiences and point of views of our prison staff affiliates. Ensuring decent employment and working conditions is a subject matter which has been close to the heart of CESI’s internal members’ Trade Council ‘Justice’ for long, especially since overcrowding and radicalisation have become major challenges. We are glad that the report was supported across almost all political the groups. It is now the European Commission and the Member States that need to pick up the messages, and as trade unionists we will make sure to remind them.”

The full text, as adopted, is available in all official languages of the EU on the website of the European Parliament.

Picture: European Parliament plenary © European Parliament 2017