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Resolution reached in Westgate dispute

Downed tools: Westgate Correctional Facility officers staged a walkout over staff issues (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A resolution was reached last night between the Westgate prison officers and management, bringing to an end two days of industrial action.

The dispute over staff shortages and security concerns resulted in the facility being secured early on Tuesday as officers staged a walkout.

Last night at just before 10pm, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of National Security confirmed that agreement had been reached and officers would return to work this morning.

“The Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel Eddie Lamb notified the Ministry earlier this evening that following a productive meeting between management and the Prison Officers Association a resolution has been reached regarding the issues raised,” the spokeswoman said. “An action plan to address the matters will be put into place and it is expected that officers will return to their normal duties at the Westgate Correctional Facility tomorrow (Thursday) morning.”

Prisoners are believed to have missed out on their regular programmes and activities as a result of the action.

On Tuesday, chairman of the Prison Officers Association Timothy Seon told The Royal Gazette that officers had concerns about security at the facility. “There are several outstanding issues that have not been resolved,” he said.

“Staff shortages is one issue. We have been told there are more people scheduled to join us sometime before the end of the year, but we are grossly short due to Government austerity and cutbacks.”

Last night Senator Jeff Baron, the Minister of National Security, welcomed the resolution.

“Both sides were committed to open and frank dialogue and should be supported in the way in which they have approached these discussions,” he said.

“The Ministry will support the Commissioner and the Prison Officers Association in the implementation of the items from the Action Plan.”