AG rattled

BPOA head stings Brathwaite with litany of woes

President of the Barbados Prison Officers’ Association (BPOA) Trevor Browne Wednesday delivered a scathing attack on Government and the prison administration for their treatment of officers at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds.

In an emotional speech to an audience which included Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Browne painted a picture of a team that was being neglected and ill-treated, and an administration that simply did not care.

President of the Barbados Prison Officers Association Trevor Browne & Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite
President of the Barbados Prison Officers Association Trevor Browne & Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

So strong was the BPOA head in his address at the annual general meeting at the prison’s staff headquarters that a clearly embarrassed Brathwaite, claiming that he had been put on the spot, asked journalists who had been invited to cover the meeting, to leave the room, explaining that he could not be candid in his response in the presence of the media.

Seemingly still upset after addressing the prison officers, the Attorney General exited the building into a waiting vehicle and hurriedly drove off without entertaining questions from shocked media personnel who were waiting outside.

What appeared to rattle Brathwaite was Browne’s graphic description of the sources of frustration experienced by the prison officers, including staffing issues and appointments.

“As it stands there is a complete lateral level of middle management within the prison where there is virtually no appointed officer, if any at all. Further, as of 2015 our information indicates that there are 75 Prison Officer 1 positions in existence, 35 established and 40 created. To my recollection there are fewer than ten permanently appointed to these post,” he said as the Attorney General listened.

Browne spoke of temporary officers who were being paid late repeatedly and were being humiliated and abused whenever they asked about their wages. One such officer, he said, was made to sleep on a “mud floor” because he had no money to pay for accommodation.

“We had a situation where an officer was living at a relative on a mud floor [because he was not being paid]. The approach to paying subs [temporary officers] is disrespectful and it is uncaring. I wonder sometimes if the Superintendent [of Prisons] is aware of the treatment that the subs get when they go to enquire about money that they should be paid. Sometimes expletives are thrown at these officers.”

The BPOA president said the problems with remuneration were not limited to substitutes, as officers acting in senior positions were not receiving commensurate payment.

He charged that a number of officers who had acted in senior positions for ten months had not been paid, ‘and if so, sporadically”, for the extra responsibilities that they had taken on, and he questioned why the correctional facility did not live up to its mission of care and humanity.

“I am claiming on behalf of the mentioned officers that their labour has been subjugated. The prison is one of the main pillars of law enforcement and its mission statement emphasizes care and humanity to its charges. Why is this mission not applicable to prison officers?”

The association head went as far as to accuse the administration of breaking the law in respect to lieu days earned by those who had worked outside of their normal shifts.

“Special days and lieu days are added to officers’ vacation and our staff over the years has taken these lieu days as additional leave . . . . However, officers who did such in the past are now being penalized for taking excessive vacation leave. This entire situation is illegal and unacceptable and the association is calling for an immediate halt to this practice and for former incidence to be reviewed,” he stressed.

Browne also issued a chilling warning to Government that its treatment of the officers was putting prison security at risk.

Speaking specifically about the late payment to some workers, he suggested it could leave some officers susceptible to propositions from prisoners or their associates.

“This practice is horrendous and may lead to officers being propositioned or enticed by inmates or their affiliates outside of the prison. I am imploring and pleading with the authorities to intervene and extend mercy,” the senior prison officer said.

16 Responses to AG rattled

  1. Mark My Word November 3, 2016 at 12:54 am

    This Prison is now a ticking time bomb, seems DLP government don’t care about nothing fuh real

  2. Tony Webster November 3, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Fertile ground to be “tilled, planted, and reaped”. Previously, we all know things are not what they should be in this country, but this is indeed a bomb of the most serious sort.

    No amount of sticking-plaster can cover this running sore; in any civilised state, the Minister would resign….or be relieved of his duties. Hereabouts and nowabouts, Froon will take a break from the warm glow of festivities…and might assure us that he will ” speak with the A.G. In due course”….or summuch. The courageous whistle-blower, Mr. Browne, can expect a very, very rough ride ahead…and must be given 100% support by his union! AND by John Public.

    We must support our public officers in such circumstances.

  3. Hal Austin November 3, 2016 at 4:31 am

    This is the daily humiliation of public servants 2hen the minister of finance is giving tax breaks to the wealthy. Here is a home affairs minister so incompetent he fears speaking in front of the press.
    What promises can a future BLP government make on these issues? Where is the Shadow home afffairs minister?
    If someone acts in a position for more than a year s/he should be confirmed in that position. Why can’t the BLP make such a statement?
    Where are the unions that are always ready to trike to protected their princes?

  4. Sue Donym November 3, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Score one for the Prison Officers… or did the AG get hit for six?
    Did this shock the AG because he does not know what’s going on in his departments or was it that he had become complacent and did not expect the officers to go public – either one is bad!

    The workers should be paid on time, just like the AG expects his pay without having to give reasons why he needs it. Officers’ queries should be dealt with respectfully not disregarded because the administrators know that they cannot go on strike. At many levels we treat each other shamefully and still wonder why our society seems to be deteriorating rapidly.

  5. Alex Alleyne November 3, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Simple, Just keep the AG in the there. It’s where he belong.

  6. The Negrocrat November 3, 2016 at 7:58 am

    He ran like the lil rat he is.

  7. The Negrocrat November 3, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Hal Austin, now we expect the opposition to do our bidding. Lol

  8. Watchman November 3, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I went through this type of thing in 1997 and 1998 while working as a temporary clerical officer. I would wait 3 to 4 months to be paid and when I was paid I would get 2-3 weeks pay, not anything close to the amount of the arrears. I did not understand then why it was happening, and I definitely don’t understand why or how it can happen in 2016.

    As someone who had saved up over $1 000 by 10 years old, to start working for $1 800 monthly and get reduced to less than $10, it was a nerve racking experience for me.
    Issues like this are why I left the public service and never looked back.

  9. Ex-Corrections November 3, 2016 at 8:43 am

    This issue has been going on since 2000 so the Ministry of Home Affairs knows about this longggg time no excuses and all this talk about inmates and second chance which is still important but the Correctional Officers need to be given their dues every month.
    That job is not for the faint of heart, weak or easily manipulated and I commend and salute all personnel at the prison for a great job they have been doing over the years and continue to do with such horrible treatment.
    I personally knew of a incident where temporary prison officers after waiting 6 to 8 months for payment and asking for it were sent on leave for seeking to get paid. This is an institution that should not be neglected

  10. So Fire Haynes November 3, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I was recently a visitor at the Hospital and overheard a nurse being utterly disrespectful and humiliating to a patient in her care at which time I was beside myself with anger. When I added my two cents she muttered, something about being overworked and underpaid. “then find another job, don’t inflict your pain on those who is not responsible for your problems,” was the kinder part of my advice to her.. I really wanted to punched her out. These public servants are expected to do their best without pay and so the cycle of ‘anger’ is spewed unto the most vulnerable among us. The AG is busy lobbying for the release of his officers charged of murder and expects business as usual from the all too friendly Press.. I salute your audacity Mr Browne. I applaud your manhood..

  11. Corey Broom November 3, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Late and partial payment of government workers has been around for a long time and will continue to happen to people who accept it. It will never happen to me, if i work and suppose to be paid week or month end, i will continue to work up to 10 days after that I would work if my money there. Accord to my mother, “if you aint pay me for last month how you going to pay me for this month, slavery done.” And if everyone did that this won’t be an issue..where are the unions.

  12. drewboy November 3, 2016 at 10:29 am

    my ole grand mother always use to say, hire a monkey to work in a banana field and pay him peanuts, he will steal your bananas. open doors for corruption for people taking bribes, and then as usual pass blame. what excuse can you give for not paying workers, for insulting them when they ask??? for the people you say???

  13. Big Brown November 3, 2016 at 11:15 am

    @Hal Austin. The BLP Government passed a law that public officers acting for a certain time should be appointed. And read what Mr. Browne said carefully. Prison officers are prohibited from joining a union, something they are seeking to change.

    This also speaks to a cold and uncaring civil service administration. In his defense, the AG does not write the pay cheques. He has to ensure that the vote for his departments covers salaries etc. and that he does not give jobs to people that cannot be paid from the monies voted by Parliament. He is the CEO, albeit a poor one from the look of this story.

    Our once reliable civil service is badly broken and needs immediate attention to bring it into the 21st century.

  14. Ann Bond November 3, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I left the Barbadian public service 21 years ago and this is still happening. It happened to all types of workers back then.

    I remember my work mate not getting paid and the accounts clerk told her she could borrow money from me. They also kept many of us on temporary contracts for protracted periods thereby affecting our pension rights. For a country which prides itself on its superiority I have never understood the lack of caring shown by Government. An advanced country is a caring one.

    I work in the public service in another Carbbean country and my salary has never been late once in 21 years. More power to you Mr. Browne.

  15. BaJan boy November 3, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Problem when there is work and Jack drinking rum. They just don’t care…

  16. Hal Austin November 4, 2016 at 3:32 am

    Barbados is not an advanced country. It is a nation suffering from a delusion of being advanced. Barbados is a fractured nation capable of being much better.


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