The Tory government is once again finding itself in the awkward position of having one of its departments investigating another over allegations by employees.
Yesterday the NSGEU announced it had launched a complaint against the Department of Justice on behalf of 40 part-time guards. The guards refused to transport inmates due to safety concerns and were not given any replacement shifts.
The union says it is unfair for the guards to not be paid because employers cannot withhold compensation from employees who refuse work for safety reasons, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The Department of Labour will investigate the claims. It recently investigated the department of justice over safety concerns regarding transporting prisoners.
“We treat both government and non-government business equally with the force of law. We want occupational health and safety issues to be given the same priority in business as in government,” said Labour Minister Mark Parent.
He said he didn’t know what the consequences could be to the department of justice if the employees are found to be right, but it would likely be determined by the courts. He also couldn’t put a timeline on when there’ll be a ruling.
“I don’t know. I try not to put pressure on (the investigators) to move too slowly or too quickly. It’s really up to them,” said Parent.