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Politicians accused of prisons ‘platitudes’

Prison officers have accused the Government of a failure to act for two decades over safety, security and working conditions.

The Prison Officers Association said yesterday that there had been “platitudes, no actions, just promises for 20 years” over “unaddressed adverse matters pertaining to safety, security, and work conditions”.

The association also carried a vote of no confidence against six senior management staff at the Department of Corrections.

The POA spoke out after Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said on Monday that Westgate prison faced “indefinite” lockdown as officers work to rule.

The association accused Progressive Labour Party and One Bermuda Alliance governments of a failure to tackle problems that affected the safety and health of prison officers.

The POA also criticised the lack of notice, or any official statement, on the secondment of Lieutenant-Colonel Eddie Lamb, the Commissioner of Corrections, who was moved to another department for nine months.

Colonel Lamb was moved in February 2018 to work as project manager for the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee.

The secondment was said to be for nine months, but prison officers said Colonel Lamb had been away from the job for more than a year.

The POA added that its collective bargaining agreement dated back to 2008, with “no increase in salary for a decade, inclusive of any allowance for cost of living adjustments”.

The POA also slammed the Public Service Negotiations Team, which has been in talks with the association since 2016.

A spokesman for the POA said: “The POA recently discovered in discussions that the PSNT did not have a mandate to negotiate in 2016-17 and has not met with management of corrections to discuss the collective bargaining agreement proposals since March 2018.”

He added that talks had been held with Mr Caines and Collingwood Anderson, the ministry's permanent secretary, and senior managers at the Department of Corrections about “outstanding matters”.

Three prison officers were attacked by Westgate inmates last Friday and the prison has been on lockdown since.

The POA said a unanimous vote of no confidence in department leaders had been sent to Mr Anderson.

The statement added: “The POA requests the respect and remuneration so belatedly forgotten and yet well deserved.”

To view the Prison Officers Association statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Westgate Correctional Facility

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Published May 03, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 03, 2019 at 9:01 am)

Politicians accused of prisons ‘platitudes’

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