Thursday, 29 September 2022


The moment that you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. Tomorrow, union members at Clarence Correctional Centre (CLA) will strike for 24 hours in support of our fight for a decent wage increase and better conditions at work.

For too long, Serco has mistreated and undervalued CCOs at CLA. As recently as last week, Serco made it very clear that they believe you’re not worth anything more than $28 per hour, and that they’re content with you being the lowest paid CCOs in the country despite the dangers you face on the job on a daily basis. This comes from a multinational company with an estimated market value in the billions, who are happy to line the pockets of their corporate managers and executives but think that an additional $0.45 an hour for CCOs at CLA is adequate. News flash: it isn’t.

Tomorrow: what’s happening and where?

The union will be meeting everyone at 9am at the Truck Drivers Memorial Park at 9am. For clarity, this is the rest area opposite the McDonalds as you are coming into Grafton from Big River Way.

The importance of tomorrow cannot be understated. After this, any stoppages that we notify Serco of will likely mean that you can just stay at home for the day. However, tomorrow is where everybody needs to show up, regardless of whether you’re rostered or not. The media will be in attendance tomorrow, including Channel 7 and the ABC, so it is really important that we get a huge turnout.

6am starters – what do I do?

You will need to go to work as rostered, as you will not be lawfully protected between 6am and 7am. If you arrive and Serco tells you not to bother coming in for the hour, then the union will be on site to take you out for breakfast. Otherwise, we will wait around until 7am and then take you out for breakfast. If you have any issues tomorrow (either when going in at 6am or leaving at 7am), please call 0401 521 561 or 0408 249 277.

The union is also recommending that those members who are due to start at 6am on Saturday 1 October should turn up at 6am, even though the stoppage is scheduled until 7am. This is simply because there is a chance that Serco will not let you on-site for the day or dock your pay if you turn up at 7am.

Can Serco discipline me for taking action?

Absolutely not. If you are a union member, you are lawfully protected. The union has the ability to file a general protections claim in the Fair Work Commission if Serco attempts to discipline employees, or gives them differential/unfair treatment, for taking protected industrial action. This includes moving employees to different neighbourhoods under the guise of ‘operational requirements’.

It is likely that Serco will attempt to pressure members into working tomorrow. If this happens, feel free to ignore whatever Serco has to say on the matter. You are legally entitled to go on strike tomorrow, and so you should. This fight is incredibly important, because you deserve more than the absolute pittance that Serco has put on the table.

The importance of optics and the media

As above, the media will be at the stoppage tomorrow. I think it is fair to conclude by now that Serco’s opposition to paying you more than $28 an hour is purely ideological, given that they are happy to fly in external employees to staff the centre whilst we strike. This is why media coverage is important. Serco is a publicly listed company in the UK with shareholders, and shaming Serco in the media (be it print media, on TV, or on social media) is an important element of our industrial campaign. This is also why you need to turn up tomorrow, even if you’re not rostered. Bring your mates, bring your family, and bring your pets. You can see the first of many articles about our industrial action HERE. If we have a good turnout tomorrow, you can guarantee that there will be a lot more articles like this one.

Last but not least…

Serco has lost multiple contracts due to their incompetence and negligence. It is clear that they have not learnt their lesson despite this, which is why our fight is so important. Being a union member means holding companies like Serco to account for their attitude towards workers and safety. We are all in this together, and CLA members have the backing and support of the entire PSA. Almost every sub-branch of the Prison Officers Vocational Branch (POVB) passed the following motion in support of your industrial action:

We, the members of PSA POVB subbranch, fully support the members of Clarence in their industrial action to increase their conditions and wages.  Privatisation does not reduce recidivism or assist in reducing crime in our state.  Privatisation is about putting money back into the hands of shareholders.  The only way that Serco profit is by putting the staff in unsafe work conditions and to reduce their pay. All prison officers should be paid equally and work in the safe environments possible for keeping our state safe.

Tomorrow, the fight begins. We will see you tomorrow at 9am, but if you have any questions in the meantime you can call Jess on 0401 521 561 or Kim on 0408 249 277.