Overcrowded jail staff working in fear after 19 attacks
STRIKES are looming at Maryborough's overcrowded prison, with officers working in fear of escalating attacks.
Unions say staff are being put at risk with an average of three prisoner assaults each week and the jail at 15% over capacity - cramming in an extra 90 prisoners to the 500-person capacity prison.
Since April 1, one staff member and 18 prisoners have been attacked as tempers fray at the prison which has been overflowing since early 2013.
With prisoners crowding cells, Together Union industrial relations director Michael Thomas said there was risk of injury to officers at the centre.
"We're seeing an increase in incidents, an increase in unrest and an increase in assaults," he said.
Strike action at five prisons across the state this week had officers protest workers compensation and conditions.
A Queensland Corrective Services spokesman said the department had implemented several approaches to safely incarcerate prisoners.
"Importantly, staffing levels increase commensurate with any increase in prisoner numbers," he said.
"QCS recognises the need to address overcrowding and is investigating a range of strategies to achieve a long-term reduction in prisoner numbers."
Mr Thomas said Maryborough officers were likely to be involved in any future industrial action with a focus on better compensation for injured workers and fixing the overcrowding issue.
Since April 1 there have been 18 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and one prisoner-on-staff assault incident.
The spokesman said none of those incidents "would classify as a significant disturbance".
Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders fears officers are "going to get hurt" at the Maryborough Correctional Centre if prisoner overcrowding issues are not addressed "sooner rather than later".
Mr Saunders said he supported "the correctional officers 100%" and he was talking with Corrective Services Minister Bill Byrne about overcrowding.
"We've got to find a solution," he said.
"I'm worried an officer is going to get hurt.
"It's bad for officers but it's also bad for the prisoners - I know that sounds crazy but you've to get them rehabilitated."