Prison officers call for removal of Hinds over failed promises

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National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds during a media conference in June 2022. – FILE PHOTO/ANGELO MARCELLE

Prison officers in the rank and file of the service are demanding the removal of National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds over his failed promises to provide adequate resources and improve their security.

In a release on Friday, the Prison Officers’ Association, which represents the second division officers, the bulk of the prison service, also called for the removal of the Public Service Commission members for its failure to promote officers to fill several vacancies in the upper management of the organisation.

The release signed by the association’s president Ceron Richards said Hinds “has consistently proven his inability to deliver on promises made as it relates to prison officers overall safety and the maintenance of acceptable working conditions.”

Richards made reference to the provisions of firearms for officers under threat while off duty, the repair of an alarm system at the Maximum Security Prison, in Golden Grove, Arouca and the failure to provide “basic necessities to effectively carry out our mandate.”

He said while it is commendable that Hinds wants to improve the working conditions of private security officers, the officers working for the State “continue to have their very own terms and conditions eroded daily.”

Among the issues he highlighted are the dilapidated dormitories, no money to assist officers who need surgeries, dental and eye care. He said while the prison has an abundance of qualified drivers, a private security firm has been contracted to transport prisoners.

Richards said because of the economic situation the prison service has adopted “illegitimate austerity measures” and a “deliberate altering of our terms and conditions of employment and collective agreements” such as non-payment of overtime and arrears since 2011.

Prison Officers’ Association president Ceron Richards during a media conference in November 2021. – FILE PHOTO/ROGER JACOB

“The unrelenting in-action of Minister Hinds to treat with his obligatory duties and management oversight of or nations prisons has created the impetus for particular actions to be taken by the prison administration against prison officer, particularly those who continue to be under threat.

“These actions which have been brought to the attention of Minister Hinds can only be described as treacherous and callous, especially as it impacts our morale and confidence which is at an all-time low.”

The association says it intends to “fiercely defend” the membership and any “negative implications from these actions/inactions will fall squarely at the feet of Minister Hinds and the prison administration,” the statement said.

A copy of the association’s release was WhatsApped to Hinds, who is overseas, and a call was also made to his cellphone but there was no response.

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