Dáil Éireann - Volume 378 - 18 February, 1988

Written Answers. - Mountjoy Prison Roster.

20. Mr. Keating asked the Minister for Justice if he intends to hold a meeting with the Prison Officers Association to discuss the new roster in place in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins): A revised roster was introduced for basic grade officers in Mountjoy Prison on 6 February 1988 and in St. Patrick's Institution on 13 February 1988. It will be introduced in other institutions in the coming weeks.

The necessity for introducing a revised roster arises from the fact that last year the Government sanctioned the recruitment of up to 200 additional staff to enable a new roster to be introduced which would eliminate the existing dependency on overtime for the staffing of the evening recreation period in the [437] closed institutions. On the basis that such a roster would be introduced, the Government allocated £6.3 million for prisons' overtime for 1988.

Discussions in regard to prisons' rostering have been taking place with the Prison Officers' Association under the Scheme of Conciliation and Arbitration for the Civil Service over the last 3 years. Unfortunately, it did not prove possible at these discussions to reach agreement on the introduction of a revised roster which would eliminate the existing inbuilt overtime. In these circumstances and having regard to the 1988 prisons overtime allocation it has been necessary for my Department to proceed with the introduction of the new roster this month in the absence of agreement.

On 5 February a Mediator was nominated by the Chairman of the Labour Court under the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for the Civil Service and discussions are now taking place under his Chairmanship. In these circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to meet with the Prison Officers Association.