Body Scanners Dispute Outcome - Public Service Association

Body Scanners Dispute Outcome

Today, the POVB was before Commissioner O’Sullivan in the Industrial Relations Commission, fighting for a fair outcome in the Body Scanners dispute.  The issue with Body Scanners was first raised by the POVB Management Committee in November 2022.

The POVB have placed bans on the use of body scanners throughout 2024, while we push for better training, assessment processes and protection for Members. To achieve this, we have been seeking the following:

  • Image analysis training to be developed by an accredited expert in the field of interpreting x-ray images.
  • An additional training module focusing on image analysis for body scanner operators.
  • The image analysis training module to be assessed on a pass fail basis.
  • Legal indemnity for officers operating body scanners who fail to detect contraband on an inmate.
  • That all license renewals require the license holder’s consent.

Following requests from the POVB Management Committee, Deputy Commissioner Anne-Marie Martin put out Memorandum No. 2024 / 13 on 16 April to all CSNSW staff, which outlined the summary of advice in relation to indemnity for Correctional Officers operating body scanners. The legal advice did not give Correctional Officers who operate a body scanner full indemnity and Commissioner O’Sullivan advised the POVB that there would be no avenue to challenge this legal advice because it is rare to be granted full indemnity in any workplace roll and function. This advice was backed up by the PSA Lawyers, who agree that no court or tribunal would grant full indemnity to operate a body scanner. It is the POVB State Executives’ view, based on the advice we have received, that the summary of advice is legally sound.

The POVB were successful in reaching agreement with CSNSW that a fully accredited expert would be engaged to develop a module of image analysis training and to implement an assessment process for that module. Furthermore, the parties reached agreement that all license renewals require the license holder’s consent. CSNSW anticipates the training package will be rolled out at the end of July 2024.

In the IRC on 17 May 2024, the POVB proposed to CSNSW that we would lift the bans on body scanning visitors immediately, but will continue the ban on body scanning inmates until the agreed training and assessment process is rolled out. CSNSW rejected the POVB proposal and sought recommendations be made by Commissioner O’Sullivan to lift all bans on body scanners immediately. The Commissioner made recommendations that the bans imposed be immediately lifted.

In response to the recommendations, the POVB voted unanimously to continue all bans on operating body scanners, with a number of POVB sub-branches stating they would consider scanning visitors if the POVB State Executive directed.

On that basis, the POVB requested that CSNSW reconsider our proposal to recommence scanning visitors and only resume scanning inmates once the new training package and assessment process is rolled out. This proposal was made to avoid arbitrating the matter, when the IRC had recommended completely lifting the bans. Following our request, the below agreement was reached by both parties in the IRC today.

  1. The POVB will immediately reinstate the use of body scanners at all centres for undertaking the screening of visitors;
  2. All license renewals (of the IA42 Radiation User Licence) require the licence holder’s consent;
  3. The training for use of body scanners be subject to assessment (this refers to the successful completion of Module 3 in the training package for using body scanners);
  4. Part of the training for use of body scanners will be delivered by a person who holds the appropriate accreditation and skills to interpret images;
  5. It is the aim of CSNSW to have the training for use of body scanners delivered by the end of July 2024; and
  6. The POVB will reinstate the use of body scanners at all centres for inmates once the training has commenced rolling out in July 2024.

The PSA Industrial Officers & POVB State Executive feel that we have achieved a positive outcome in this dispute and direct all POVB sub-branches to abide by the above agreement.

We thank PSA Senior Industrial Officer David Bartle for representing POVB Members in this matter and appreciate the assistance of POVB Delegates Mitch Jakins (Bathurst CC) and Ozzie Zerdo (Shortland CC) who provided evidence and advice in the IRC of their experience and concerns in the use of body scanners.

The POVB State Executive wishes to thank all POVB Members for your unity and strength, taking strong action to achieve today’s outcome. We have a number of massive fights ahead, including:

  • returning private Correctional Centres back to public hands;
  • eliminating the inferior conditions imposed on POVB Members at John Morony CC due to the extension of the ManageCo operation;
  • stopping the proposed cost saving measures to impose VOR’s to eliminate overtime, which will impact on your safety;
  • Ensuring your safety on medical escorts is not compromised by the introduction of the Holistic Risk Assessment process; and
  • stopping the proposed plan to eliminate 12 hour shift throughout CSNSW.

If you require further information, please contact the POVB State Executive.

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