Court Rules In Favour Of Prison Officers

January 8, 2020 | 10 Comments

[Updated with PDF] The Court has ruled that the “Government’s position on Corrections Officers paying into the GEHI scheme is unlawful,” the Prison Officers Association announced, adding that it ”hoped that the Government will accept the decision and will now act fairly.”

Prison Officers Association Statement

A POA spokesperson said, “The Prison Officers Association announces that the Chief Justice of Bermuda has ruled in its favor that the government’s position on Corrections Officers paying into the GEHI scheme is unlawful.

“The Corrections Officers have always paid the health premiums and related costs for their dependents. This decision by the Chief Justice supports the position that the POA has taken throughout the negotiations process that we are exempt from making GEHI contributions, per the contracts, which have been in existence for the last 50 years.

“The Chief Justice has ruled that the Corrections Officers, by working to their contracts, in May 2019, did not breach any laws nor did they engage in any illegal industrial action, which means that the Cabinet acted in haste, and prevented the natural process of negotiations by bullying, harassment, and the abuse of power by forcing arbitration.

“At great expense to the Bermuda tax payer this 3 year battle has been fueled by a labor government who say that they put the people of Bermuda first. The Government of Bermuda fought vehemently to remove contractual benefits of government employees. A determined battle due to the narrowmindedness and short sightedness of this present government administration to achieve an unfair outcome by any means necessary.

“Had the Government of Bermuda put as much effort into remedying the adverse work and housing conditions of our Officers and incarcerated population, as suggested by the POA through the negotiations process, then this court process would not have been necessary.

“The apathy and lack of action for years by Senior Management and Cabinet exasperated the existing malaise, and low morale, and confirmed the lack of confidence in the ability of senior management and the Cabinet to act expeditiously, fairly, and in ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

“The Mandela Rules have been consistently ignored by Government and has, in effect, created a hostile environment among those who are incarcerated as well as Corrections officers. This international standard must be implemented and enforced without hesitation on the part of senior management and Cabinet.

“This is a hard won victory. It is hoped that the Government will accept the decision and will now act fairly and in good faith going forward.”

National Security Minister Wayne Caines Statement

Minister Caines said, “We respect the decision of the Supreme Court and are reviewing the judgment in its entirety and its implications. However, this decision aside, we have ongoing core issues between the Ministry and the POA and we hope to find an amicable resolution.”

“For the last two years, our Ministry has sought to address any impasses and challenges with the POA head on. It is always my desire, as the Minister with responsibility for the Department of Corrections, to ensure that we have a strong plan with regard to our Corrections facilities, as well as addressing the concerns of all Corrections staff and the welfare of the inmates.

“We have had some success in some areas. We have implemented strategic action plans aimed at strengthening security at our facilities, and we have worked towards improving the infrastructure at our facilities.

“In good faith, and proactively, this Ministry has taken positive steps forward to address any and all concerns. Following today’s court decision, we look forward to working with the POA to resolve the additional outstanding core issues.”

The full judgment follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (10)

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  1. Is it fair says:

    Is this fair to the many government employees that pay into this scheme and have to carry the weight of PO who pay nothing into this plan. While this may have been accepted years ago health care cost have changed and yet we continue paying for them. Unfair!

    • Jean Louis says:

      What is unfair about Prison and Police Officers having free healthcare? What are your basics for your statement? Ok so you are saying that it isn’t fair because other government employees have been paying it for years, well you show me the government office worker who put themselves in harm’s way? When a hurricane who are the ones who are out there? Who are the ones who face constant harm on the job with violent criminals whom they interact with on a daily basis? Who are the ones who are ones who face a man with a gun? Not the office attendant, not secretary, not office administrator but yes it is the police officer or the prison officer. My question for all those who complain about this benefit which both police officers and prison officers have is because of great representation by their union and Association. You see whilst other unions were seeking pay increases, both prison and police officers were looking at better benefits for their members and less increases. Now you tell me who are at fault? Don’t hate prison and police officers for their benefits which they have fought hard to get. Blame your unions who were and still is short sighted and never fought for benefits for its members.

  2. Oh,I see now says:

    “In good faith, and proactively, this Ministry has taken positive steps forward to address any and all concerns.”

    Is that why the POA had to go to great lengths dodging a government gauntlet ,and you call that being proactive.Please do not waste anymore of my tax dollars taking this to the Privy Council.

  3. Oh,I see now says:

    Well done officers.

  4. A term called , ” Conceptual model ,” is given to the leading philosophy of any organization .The very reading of it would tell you about the goals and its direction in serving the community . The Ministry and the Prison Service seem to be all over the place . If there are to be corrections or changes , they must start from the Head .

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    “At great expense to the Bermuda tax payer this 3 year battle has been fueled by a labor government who say that they put the people of Bermuda first. The Government of Bermuda fought vehemently to remove contractual benefits of government employees. A determined battle due to the narrowmindedness and short sightedness of this present government administration to achieve an unfair outcome by any means necessary.”

    Those are strong words.

    • spinspinspin says:

      If only they’d put that much effort into reducing their own pay and benefits, but that doesn’t really fit into the PLP ethos.

  6. Just my thoughts says:

    I disagree with the POA not having to pay into the GEHI because they have a high risk job.

    They should be making payments just like all other Government workers, BUT I do agree that if they are injured on the job, they should not have to incur any additional health insurance expense.

    Not paying anything into GEHI is just unsustainable due to health costs continuing to rise.

  7. Oh,I see now says:

    A contract was broken illegalities were in play and basic human rights were violated by this PLP government.The issues at hand were the abuse of power and neglect of duties to even try and find common ground.Remember the pendulum swings both ways for some of you on here.One day you too will find yourself fighting for the right to have a contract respected.

  8. bluenose says:

    I feel that the POA should pay the same basic premiums as everyone else, but that any additional premium, for the additional risks involved for Prison Officers, should be covered by the Government.

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