Graphic images of a prison officer bleeding from the neck after being stabbed with a sharpened toilet brush will be beamed to the public from today as part of a union campaign for higher wages.
The campaign is an escalation of the WA Prison Officers Union's long-held complaints about prisoner overcrowding, which it says has become so dangerous its members deserve more money.
The union wants a 15 per cent pay rise over three years. WAPOU secretary John Welch said yesterday the "Respect the Risk" television, radio and newspaper campaign, to be launched at a rally outside Parliament House today, was about more than just wages.
He said his members were concerned overcrowded jails could not be safely controlled by an undermanned prison officer workforce.
They also oppose further privatisation of the State's prison system.
"It's frankly ridiculous that we have a Government that says that law and order is a priority and yet it cuts the corrective services budget," Mr Welch said. "Those two things are incompatible."
Treasurer Troy Buswell ordered a public sector-wide hiring freeze last month as part of a $330 million savings drive that came on top of 2 per cent cuts announced in the May Budget.
Mr Welch said staff shortages and an overtime clampdown meant officers would have to reduce programs designed to stop inmates reoffending.
"And in the meantime we get prisoners who are frustrated they are not getting educational programs and become more difficult to manage," he said.
"Who deals with those prisoners?
"Officers like the one in our advert who got stabbed."
Prison officer "Andy", 56, was stabbed during a rampage at Hakea Prison in November 2010.
Mr Welch said WA's prison system had a design capacity for 3500 inmates but housed 4900.
Even after the Government's $656 million capital works program the system would still be 1500 to 1700 cells short by 2015, he said.
Corrective Services Minister Murray Cowper said the capital works program was the biggest so far in WA."I acknowledge that the prison officers enterprising bargaining agreement is up for renewal next year and I am proud that our prison officers are some of the best paid in the country," he said. "I am happy to meet with prison officers at any time to hear their concerns."
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