Work to rule at prison
Industrial unrest is emerging at Her Majesty’s Prison(HMP)as a group of officers has charged that the institution is understaffed and officers are now working specifically by the guidelines set out in the Prison Act in protest,The Nassau Guardian haslearned.
“Our bodies won’t allow us to go further,”said one of the officers who did not wish to be named.”The entire prison is short-staffed.”
The officers said the government prefers to continue to provide resources to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, which graduated a new class of recruits in November, and it does not extend the same attention to the prison.
“Police get recruits every year,”said the officer who was the spokesperson for the group.
The officers said they worked beyond the call of duty in the past in an effort to maintain security at the prison. They said they are now taking the stand to ensure that adequate resources are allocated to HMP.
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette unveiled on Sunday at the annual police church service that the government is investing$8.5 million in the force over the next six months. The force will receive three new police squads.
“I don’t know that the police protest when we do things for the prison or the defence force protests when we do things for them. At this time we are dealing with the manpower for the police,”said National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest when asked about the issue.
“The same needs that are required for the prison, we are addressing. I find it incredulous that the Prison Staff Association(PSA)would be promoting potential unrest as a result of something that we are doing for the police. It has nothing to do with the prison. It doesn’t mean that we are not dealing with matters relating to the prison.”
The work to rule action at the prison comes as the government continues to fight with the unions representing workers at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)over the sale of the majority stake in the company to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
The wider trade union movement has joined forces with the BTC unions.
When asked if he intends to meet with officers at the prison over the issue, Turnquest said he only learned about the issue late Tuesday night. The minister added that he has not yet heard about the problems of the officers from the leadership of the staff association.