Saint Lucia
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Concerns of BCF Officers to be Dealt With – Pierre

Bordelais Correntional Facility.
Bordelais Correntional Facility.

CORRECTIONAL officers at the Bordelais Correctional Facility will have some of their concerns dealt with, according to Prime Minister Philip J Pierre.

Pierre who spoke to reporters, Wednesday, said he met with the executive members representing the officers and they expressed their concerns over working conditions at the penal institution.

He said, over the past year, since the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) took office there has been a marked improvement in the welfare of the officers.

“We were concerned that the situation needed to be improved, for instance, in terms of the physical arrangements the skylines were leaking, we fixed that, the fencing was almost completely damaged …and we ordered fencing for the entire facility,” said Pierre, who is also Minister for National Security.

Referring to complaints about protective gear, he said, orders were placed for specific bullet-proof vests, guns and ammunition. Among other things, said the national security minister, “was a skills allowance that was due to the officers that hadn’t been paid for ages …and we paid that.”

He said government also made provisions for the officers with the purchase of mattresses, and a stove. Additionally, in this year’s budget allocation, provisions were made for more vehicles for the BTC, “and there were some issues with insurance that we had to budget for …we’ve added 25 new recruits, and there are other issues of legislation.”

Pierre disclosed that a consultant has been employed “to look at the BTC (officers) as it relates to their promotion” and other matters.

“Bordelais is a peculiar situation,” he noted. “Bordelais is under the Public Service and all promotions to Bordelais have to go through the Public Service, not like the Police Force where promotions up to (the rank of) Inspector is done by the Commissioner of Police. So, you find all promotions must go to the Public Service Commission and that takes some time.”

PM Pierre said the situation at the BTC is “very unfortunate” and “I would be very sad” if the officers were to proceed with strike action. He added that radios have also been ordered for the officers, while stating that, “What they want cannot happen instantly. We have to change the laws, and we have a consultant doing that. We have ordered vehicle protective equipment, guns and ammunition, fencing, and we are getting the vehicles for them, so it’s very unfortunate”.

However, he declared: “I hope that good sense prevails …we appreciate what they do and we have added more people and they will get some more as time goes on.”

Pierre disclosed that a sum more than $250, 000 has been paid to bring in gear and equipment for the officers, and “it was due to supply chain issues that the ammunition and bullet proof vests had not arrived here.”

Noting that the BTC officers “need a lot more”, since they work under tremendous stress, Pierre said  that “to say the government isn’t trying or to say that the government isn’t doing what we can, under these circumstances…is very unfortunate. But …we hope that good sense prevails.”