The Barton Street jail is still in lockdown and corrections officer are off the job Thursday morning. The officers are not working while they negotiate a health and safety concern.

The lockdown began Monday after it was discovered a piece of metal was missing from a light fixture. Management and officers were concerned it could be used as a weapon.

Dan Sidsworth, Ontario Public Service Employee Union (OPSEU) corrections division chair, said jail guards wanted to search the entire prison and wear protective vests but management wanted a smaller section of the prison searched without the vests.

"Our concern," Sidsworth said, "is that the weapon has migrated to another part of the institution." He added, officers "searched the immediate area and came up empty."

The Minstry of Labour was called to investigate the work stoppage Wednesday.

Matt Blajer, a spokesman for the ministry, told CBC Hamilton that the jail guards do not have the right to refuse work in this situation.

The corrections officers have since been ordered by the employer to return to work. The officers are members of the Ontario Public Service Employee Union (OPSEU). Sidsworth said the union is still in contact with the ministry and made a proposal Tuesday that could lead to an end of the lockdown.

As a result of the lockdown, inmates have reported they haven't had clean clothes or clean sheets for a week. OPSEU said its members will only return to work if allowed to complete a jail search wearing a protective safety vests.

"Our concerns," Sidsworth said, "are the same as those of the inmates. We want a safe working environment for the officers. And our working conditions are their living conditions. We don't want to see anyone get hurt."