News Release: Prison Officers Association, August 11, 2020 – The Prison Officers Association (POA) has advised the Cabinet that their cost-cutting proposal has been unequivocally and unanimously rejected by the membership.
The POA has listened to promises for 20 years that relate to updating ageing plant and equipment, bringing staffing levels to meet minimum manning requirements and address salary parity within the services. We have listened to these platitudes and very little changes. The plant is aging out, there is inadequate supplies of equipment, there are not enough personnel to meet the manning requirements and parity is a promise that has been waiting implementation since 2001.
Uniform services work longer hours, with more personal risk to body and often under unsafe conditions than any other Government worker.
The POA has spent four years trying to negotiate with the Bermuda Government. It has been arduous and frustrating. The Association submitted a proposal for a new CBA on 31st May, 2017. We received the Government’s response in early February
2018. We attempted mediation and ended with being forced into arbitration on 22 July, 2019. We appealed the award of the arbitration and in January 2020 we received a ruling from the Chief Justice that overturned the ruling and stated that the arbitration had no jurisdiction and that the POA members can retain GEHI as a benefit and not pay into it as it was contractual and had been for over 60 years.
The Government has a clear legal ruling on GEHI for POA members. It is definitive and conclusive.
The POA membership has no faith in any of the words of the Cabinet Ministers.
After all of the banter, what remains behind for us to live with is; toxic mold, no water in facilities for flushing or washing, no hot water for 2 years, inadequate PPE equipment and a failing plant. There has been no progress on two outstanding grievances that have been languishing for months due to either incompetence or political interference.
Wherein therefore, lies trust? Given all of this history and the ongoing deficit of trust with this administration, the members of the POA advised the Cabinet that their austerity proposal were unequivocally and unanimously rejected.
The Prison Officers’ Association comprises men and women to engage every day in arduous work unlike the average job. This is inclusive of caring for mentally ill inmates for which there is no adequate support or housing. We are the forgotten service. We recognize every day that one of us may not return home to our families. The POA requests the respect and remuneration so belatedly forgotten and yet well deserved.