Prison officers in Antigua and Barbuda have taken their concerns to the streets.
The handful of these correctional officers who decided to remain at work converged outside the penal institution earlier today to highlight some of the problems they say have been plaguing them for years.
The majority of these officers are home on sick leave after 34 prisoners tested positive for COVID two weeks ago. Their alleged illnesses are not related to the coronavirus but instead they say they are worried they may contract the deadly disease.
They say junior staff are being forced to work for more than 24 hours without the required protective gears while interacting with COVID-19 positive inmates and failed promises to address pressing concerns.
They say the issues have become more unbearable with the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that there are infected inmates on the same compound.
The prison officer explains that they only learnt about the plan to transfer the infected inmates to an off-site location via the media.
She also says the prison’s medical staff are under severe pressure.
Another issue which is of major concern to the officers is the lack of risk insurance to protect them on the job.
At least two different officers recounted situations where they claimed they were injured on the job by mentally challenged inmates and their only recourse was to file a report at the nearest police station and wait for the matter to be handled.
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Wow! That ‘spokesperson’ for the prison officers is genuinely fearful of losing their lives to this dreaded Corona virus. The lady is so articulate and adamantly concerned about the myriad of issues that have been plaguing the prison officers and by extension the entire prison perennially.
These Caribbean governments seem obsessed only with feathering their own nests and winning the next election. The health and well-being of public servants and the citizens is inconsequential.
The ruling Labor Administration in Antigua, like its Labor bosom buddy in Dominican, shares the same playbook. Their philosophy is SELF first, second and third, citizens after.