Inmates returning to Limerick prison from court dates were locked outside the front gate on Tuesday night.
The usual prisoner behind bars scenario took a bizarre twist when 25 inmates were locked out and could not get past the closed front gates.
Five prison vans returning from court sittings found the main gate locked. Among the locked-out inmates was a pregnant woman.
As the prison vans arrived, they had to line up outside the main gate due to a work-to-rule inside the walls.
It is believed prison officers are angry over demands by management that they work an extra 20 minutes at the end of their shift. Officers in 13 prisons and detention centres are involved in an ongoing dispute over extended rosters.
One prison source said that the problem could be resolved if management stuck to the conditions laid out in the Haddington Road Agreement.
The source said: “They want us to work more hours for no extra money — the prisons will have major problems if something is not done to sort this out.”
With a reduction in overall staffing levels, officers claim the secure and safe control of prisoners is something that they are battling with daily.
Prison officers say they have been told to work an extra 20 minutes and are prevented from leaving the jail during their breaks.
A spokesman for the prison service said there was an industrial relations issue in the prison service at present.
He said: “We are in discussions at the LRC and there is a work-to-rule throughout the service. We are not making any comment as we don’t want to inflame the situation.”
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