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(MONTREAL — May 14, 2012) Members of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) are occupying five riding offices belonging to three federal cabinet ministers this morning to protest planned penitentiary closures and a series of unfulfilled commitments from the federal Conservative Party.

Correctional officers will deliver a manifesto detailing the union’s grievances at the offices of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (in Steinbach, Manitoba), Treasury Board President Tony Clement (in Huntsville, Bracebridge and Parry Sound, Ontario), and Industry Minister Christian Paradis (Thetford Mines, Quebec).

The manifesto denounces the government’s “incoherence” as it decreases targeted cell space for maximum-security inmates, inmates belonging to organized-crime groups and for those suffering from serious mental health problems even as it adopts a series of laws that will increase the inmate population. The move will lead to overcrowding and more violence in federal institutions and put correctional officers, the public and inmates at greater risk.

UCCO-SACC-CSN also decries the Conservative government’s failure after six years in power to meet its commitments to correctional officers on salaries, pensions and an important health and safety issue. The union’s current collective agreement expired two years ago and correctional officers expect Treasury Board negotiators to come to the table with a real mandate to renew the contract.

Finally, the document makes four demands on the government:

1. Reverse the decision to close Kingston Penitentiary, Regional Treatment Centre and Leclerc Institution unless and until suitable replacement institutions are constructed;
2. Meet the government’s commitments to correctional officers regarding salaries, pensions and working conditions;
3. Legislate a Blood Samples Act;
4. Engage in meaningful consultations with correctional officers regarding the evolution of Correctional Service Canada.

“Serious errors have been made in the cost-cutting plan for the Correctional Service,” said UCCO-SACC-CSN National President Pierre Mallette. “We do not believe the recently announced closures will save the government money in the long run. They contradict the government’s slogan of ‘Safe Streets and Communities’ and will make our jobs more dangerous.”

For information, Lyle Stewart, CSN communications service, 514 796-2066.

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