Despite the addition of 21 new prison officers joining the ranks in July, Bermuda Real can disclose that their senior colleagues are working up to 300 hours of overtime per month.
In terms of dollars and cents, that translates into individual pay cheques that could run from $10,000 up to $18,000 a month with overtime.
Asked for specifics, the Minister responsible for the island’s prisons, Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security said the Department of Corrections “closely monitors its overtime on a monthly basis to ensure that it is in keeping with established fiscal protocols”.
“I must stress however, that there will be instances when overtime is critically necessary to provide for the safety and security of officers, inmates and the public,” he said.
“Factoring into the overtime hours are instances when officers must escort inmates for medical treatment and court appearances. Overtime hours are also incurred due to illness, holiday coverage or training, which requires staffing resources to ensure coverage of various shifts.
“I must point out however, that overtime pay is factored into the Ministry of National Security’s annul budget. Additionally, the Bermuda Government’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Department of Corrections, outlines that hours worked beyond normal working hours are subject to overtime pay at the rate of one-and-a-half or double-time.”
He also noted that the department is “in the process of seeking to hire an additional 20 officers” to increase “staffing resources”.
“Lastly, my colleagues and I fully appreciate the service that Bermuda’s Corrections Officers provide.
“The Ministry is working to ensure that each officer has the necessary support they need, which includes a safe and healthy working environment in order for them to execute their duties.”
“Recruitment is expected to commence in 2019,” he added.
But the Minister would neither confirm or deny just how many overtime hours are being worked by staff, or what that adds up to in terms of individual pay cheques.
When contacted for a follow up, former Premier Michael Dunkley said: “Overtime compensation in the Dept. of Corrections has always been necessary in certain situations and thus the need to control the use.
“The Minister is correct in that overtime is a budgeted item however, as a former Minister of National Security, I am aware that the amount of overtime paid, and for what functions, always needed to me monitored closely. This ensured that overtime was not abused and any appropriate operational changes could be made when we required to limit the amount paid or to provide the required work in an efficient and safe manner. It appears that with a shortage of officers and a potential increase in sick leave the overtime budget could be stressed this year,” said Mr Dunkley.
“In addition, the Government, through the Minister of Government Reform or Minister of National Security, has provided little in the way of an update on negotiations with Corrections, and for that matter the Bermuda Police Service.
“In light of the challenging responsibilities required in these professions it is incumbent that a resolution is reached and the public notified. I have requested updates in the House and the Minister of Government Reform has been hesitant to reply and it appears the Minister of National Security is to busy with Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and travel to devote attention to this important matter.
“Finally, I am aware that there is no hot water in the Westgate facility.
“This has been the case since mid-summer and is totally unacceptable. Hot water is an essential requirement in a facility such as this for proper cleaning requirements, inmate hygiene and the sanitary and healthy functioning of the kitchen among other needs.
“There is no excuse for the lack of supply of hot water and the inability to fix the the problem over such an extended period of time. I have great sympathy for the Officers and Inmates with this challenge. The Government needs to take their concerns seriously or the situation could escalate.”