Understaffing and overcrowding at the Ħal Far Detention Centre has led the General Workers Union to ask the government to boost staff numbers as soon as possible, warning that industrial action may follow if this request is not met.
In a statement, the GWU’s Disciplined Forces, Security & Law Enforcement Officers Section revealed that just eight people – 4 detention and 4 security officers – were responsible for over 600 detained asylum seekers when a group of detainees broke out of the facility earlier this month.
The union also highlighted that a detention officer suffered a number of injuries as detainees protested their detention last Saturday, and said that over the past few weeks, it had been drawing the Home Affairs Ministry’s attention to the severe lack of human resources on site.
“We reiterate that if the situation is not addressed in the coming days, we will be constrained to issue various directives,” the union said.
The GWU also noted that through section secretary Theo Vella, it has recently reiterated its request for staff at the detention centres to be covered by the government’s Occupational Personal Accident Benefit Scheme.