Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson and prison officers are at loggerheads over opposing positions for a nominee to represent them on the Prison Advisory Board of Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds, St Philip.
Minister Hinkson has made it clear that he, with the approval of Cabinet, requires that a member of the Prison Officers’ Association should sit on the Board to represent the officers’ interests.
However, the officers are insisting that their longstanding consultant and trade union leader Senator Caswell Franklyn is their choice to look after their affairs on the board.
In a letter dated March 12, 2019 signed by Estherphyne Holder on behalf of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and addressed to the president of the association, it was stated that the appointment would commence March 1, 2019 and end July 31, 2021.
“I wish to inform you that the Cabinet, at its meeting on February 7, 2019, agreed that a member of the Barbados Prison Officers’ Association should be appointed to serve as member of the Advisory Board of Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds for a period commencing March 1, 2019 to July 31, 2021,” the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY, read.
The association president was also informed that he would be paid $120 per meeting and that his instrument of appointment was enclosed in the correspondence
But in reply, the prison officers’ body rebuffed the minister’s nominee out of hand, telling him if it could not be Senator Franklyn, then forget it.
“I write to inform you that Senator Caswell Franklyn has accepted our invitation to be the nominee to represent our interests on the Prison Advisory Board. The association therefore requests that you extend the normal courtesies to him as the nominee of the president of the association,” the correspondence, signed by secretary Paul Outram stated.
That submission was followed up with another letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs dated April 17, 2019 dismissing the association’s nominee.
“I am directed to inform you that the Barbados Prison Officers’ nominee, Senator Caswell Franklyn to sit as a representative on the Prisons Advisory Board, has not been accepted by the minister. Kindly note that the nominee must be a member of the Barbados Prison Officers’ Association. Please be guided accordingly,” the ministry insisted.
In a comment this afternoon, Franklyn, an Opposition Senator and Head of the Unity Trade Union (UTU), while admitting that this was the first time a member of the Prison Officers’ Association would have been appointed to the board, suggested that it was not initially specified who the nominee should be.
“We had a meeting with the minister and the board and we were able to put a lot of things on the table that surprised the minister and the board because the minister and the board had been misled for a long time. So the Chairman of the Board, Cecily Chase,QC recommended that the prison officers should be represented on the board. The minister agreed, and he issued the instrument [of appointment] saying the President of the Prison Officers’ Association or his nominee. There were no restrictions on who the nominee should be,” he stated.
“Part of my instructions from the executive was that they would send nobody else. If they don’t take me, he could keep the seat. Those were my instructions from the executive,” Senator Franklyn stressed.
But Minister Hinkson’s response was equally firm.
“I have stretched out an olive branch to the prison association with the conflicts that they have with the management of the prison. I am asking for someone from the association…the executive. That is what it is and I have not been given that. If they don’t what to accept it, so be it,” he told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.