Some frontline workers at Barbados’ main correctional facility say they are “frustrated” over Government’s non-payment of their “flexibility allowance”.
The prison guards at Dodds say they have not been paid the allowance — in some cases for almost three years — and are owed thousands of dollars for services rendered.
“We work eight hours, but when we go over we are supposed to be paid for it. We ain’t getting paid for it at all. All they say is the Government does not have funding,” a spokesman for the workers said.
He pointed out that, in some cases, the workers had completed as many as 60 hours per month in overtime but “not a cent” had been forthcoming.
The situation affects those guards who escort inmates to court for their appearances, as well as those assigned to the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital and at polyclinics, where prisoners are transported for health checks.
“The police does get a little money when they go out there on duty and we don’t get ours and it is simply not fair,” one affected officer said, pointing out that he is owed monies for duties performed at the QEH dating back to October 2016.
Barbados TODAY understands that 17 escorts and eight drivers perform those duties on a weekly basis. As an alternative to the outstanding pay, the officers were offered “special days” which could be attached to their annual leave.
However, this has been rejected by the officers on the grounds that “we can’t carry days to the shop”.
“They tried to replace it with special days; escorts work Monday to Friday, so that’s like 80 special days owed to them. It can be attached to your vacation, but after working so many long hours everyone prefer the money than the days,” the spokesman emphasized.
When contacted, President of the Barbados Prison Officers’ Association (BPOA) Trevor Browne told Barbados TODAY he was aware of the situation.
However, he was unwilling to discuss the matter publicly at this stage, saying, “I am addressing it at another level right now.
“There was discussion and it had stopped . . . . We put a case in court last Friday relative to all of our matters and it also includes flexibility allowance,” he explained.
“Really and truly it had stopped for a while and I don’t really want to speak to it because we are trying to address it at a level where we could come to some sort of agreement,” Browne added.
With the case due to be heard in the High Court on April 24, he said the association was seeking to get back the powers it had surrendered under the Prisons Act, which he described as “cumbersome”.
Attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls is representing the BPOA in the matter.