Kurt Desplenter

Talks on the situation at Bruges Prison end on a positive note

Talks between the unions that represent prison officers at Bruges Prison in West Flanders and the Justice Minster in Belgium’s caretaker federal government Koen Geens (Flemish Christian democrat) ended on Friday evening. Last week three prison guards on the jail’s high security wing were beaten up and since then prison officers on the wing have been providing a so-called “Sunday service” by means of protest. 

On Thursday 25 July three prison officers on the jail’s high security wing were badly beaten by inmates. Straight away their colleagues decided to offer a reduced service in protest at the assaults. On Thursday of this week there protest was extended.   

As a result of the guards action prisoners are unable to shower or exercise. As we reported earlier this week the Central Prisons Supervision Council visited the prison and found conditions there to be “unacceptable”.

In an effort to find a solution to the dispute the unions held talks with the Justice Minister Koen Geens. The Christian trade union ACV describes the talks as having been “constructive”

One of the unions’ main demands was the transfer of a violent prisoner to a psychiatric facility.

ACV’s Filip Dudal told VRT News that "The Minister has promised that this will happen”.

"This was one of our most important points. I hope that work can resume normally”.

The unions also raised the issue of staff shortages. The result of the talks  will now be put before the union rank and file. If the agreement is approved it is hoped that a normal service will be resumed. However, until then prison officers will continue to offer only a minimum service.