Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.
Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Sarah Harvey

Rookie jail staff left to watch inmates at crowded jail

INEXPERIENCED, casual prison guards have been tasked with keeping an eye on 1200 angry prisoners as a dispute over working conditions continues at one of Queensland's major jails.

The Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre is expected to turn senior prison guards away from the centre again today after union members threatened one-hour strike action during the week.

A skeleton staff of recent correctional service graduates and management is understood to be the only authority inside the prison which has kept prisoners in lockdown since yesterday morning. Staff are calling on the private operators, GEO Group, to review working conditions for prison guards, with claims there are between 30 and 60 inmates per prison officer.

GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis said it was the State Government's responsibility to determine reasonable staffing levels.

READ MORE: Queensland prisons holding 1600 inmates over capacity. 

Mr Davis also said there were capable staff members inside the prison currently as part of lockdown procedures.

"The prisoners are free to move around and go to the exercise yard and still have visitors and medical treatment. The only things they are unable to access is some of their TAFE courses and the industry centre," he said.

However, United Voice co-ordinator Damien Davie said prison staff were at serious risk.

"Violence has never been this bad inside the prison," Mr Davie said. "Tensions are very high at the moment. Assaults inside the prison are happening every day. Just this week prisoners filled buckets of boiling water and threatened to tip it on staff."

The long-running dispute has been escalating for several months after staff called for the immediate sacking of management in April.

A Queensland Audit Office report said Arthur Gorrie was at 122 per cent capacity.

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