Robyne Cuerel

Prisoners urged to strike over smoking ban and overcrowding

INMATES of jails across NSW have been urged to go on strike to protest overcrowding and a range of other alleged breaches of their rights.

Advocacy group Justice Action made the call just days before a smoking ban is due to start across every prison in the state.

Co-ordinator Brett Collins, a former inmate, said recent attacks on inmates' rights were tantamount to torture.

He also slammed the government for banning smoking without making smokeless "e-cigarettes" available to those kicking their addiction.

"The government has refused to acknowledge its failings, blamed staff, and has brought out the immediate action teams (to stop riots)," he said.

"We know from experience that riots don't bring long-term changes but allow armed bullies to vilify and brutally degrade defenceless, desperate people.

"After considerable consultation, without any external assistance being offered, we declare the beginning of the prisoners strike."

Mr Collins said the "smart strike" would be disciplined and committed to running over a long period.

"The rules are that there will be no violence, no riots, no martyrs, no hunger strikes, no charges and no services," he said.

"There will be a gradual shutdown of all prison industries including food services.

"Prison property will not be protected.

"Prisoners will become sick with nicotine withdrawal and other ailments.

"Breaches of the rules will be registered and dealt with after the strike has ended."

He added the strike would only end with "respectful guidelines for mutual obligations where our citizens get support to improve rather than be crushed in destructive isolation".


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