NZ union speaks out over dangerous workloads

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A New Zealand union has spoken out over dangerous workloads, claiming probation officers and prison employees are being pushed to limit with their health and wellbeing suffering as a result.

According to the Corrections Association of New Zealand, case managers should only deal with up to 35 prisoners but thanks to an exploding prison population, some are now coping with up to 70.

"It's a huge increase of work and it is breaking people," union representative Beven Hanlon told ONE News. “That's not acceptable people are actually going off sick, they are suffering heart conditions they have got anxiety all sorts of problems are happening,” he added.

However, it’s reported that the Department of Corrections is actively working on the issue.

"We acknowledge that staff are busy, but the workload is manageable,” chief probation officer Darius Fagan said in a statement, adding that Corrections has been “Actively working with” the Public Service Association.

Fagan stressed that the PSA had been involved in a work plan to better manage workloads.

“The workload tool allows us to identify which staff have very high workloads, so that they can be re-distributed, and also shows where pressures are emerging due to location-specific issues, such as offending or sentencing trends,” he revealed.

“The tool is not the sole determinant of work distribution, with managers considering staff experience and expertise when allocating cases,” he continued.
 
"I am confident we have the people to do the job, but we must constantly refine the distribution of work to meet demand changes,” he added. “Where there is a compelling case for additional resource in a location, we will meet that need."
 
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