–hopes of Government intervention still sharp
Director of the Guyana Prison Service (GPS), Gladwin Samuels, has indicated that the GPS has received interest from several insurance companies to provide plans to the workers.
However, the Director says the GPS still has its eyes fixed on the Government to provide insurance plans.
Two weeks ago, Samuels disclosed that for more than 19 years, the GPS has been fighting to have risk allowance and life insurance to be made available to the staff.
According to Samuels, the working environment for the prison staff is not favourable, based on the hostility which the prison officers are exposed to on a daily basis.
He added that despite the conditions under which they are placed to operate, no risk allowance is made available for the dangers they are exposed to. Additionally, a life insurance plan is also absent for these very individuals.
In an interview with this publication, Samuels indicated that since his call was made for risk allowance and life insurance plans for staff, several insurance companies have made proposals to them.
Moreover, the GPS is working out schedules for these companies to meet with the staff to make their proposals. Nevertheless, the Director said the Prison Service is still hoping for the government to intervene.
This publication understands that if members of the GPS are to take up the proposals of the insurance companies, the premiums paid to the companies will have to come from their own salaries, whatever the amount is.
On the other hand, if the government is to intervene, a suitable figure will be worked out with the staff on an amount to be deducted from their salaries and this may even see a possible raise of their salaries to facilitate the deduction.
In a statement to the media in observance of their 36 years of service to the country, the Director had said, “If we are going to be successful, Government must continue to recognise the Guyana Prison Service for its contribution to society.”
“Improvement of working conditions is a work in progress; much more is required.”
Director Samuels indicated that since the destruction of the Camp Street Prison, the prisoners and staff are in makeshift offices and holding cells.
He further stated that most of the offices are now tents, which expose workers to the elements.
Recently, there were an additional 12 houses for the lodging of its staff at the Mazaruni Prisons.
However, there is still a need for more housing. The GPS is seeking to have the old homes either rehabilitated or demolished.
The Director of Prison Services also called for “comparable increases in our take-home pay. This would be highly appreciated.”
Moreover, the Director noted that the cost of living is very high and a lot of their staff operate far from homes. For example, he said the majority of workers hail from Berbice and they are stationed at the Mazaruni Prison.
This places a huge strain on the staff as they have to provide for their family all the way in Berbice while maintaining themselves with resources from Bartica, which is considered to be the gateway to the interior.
“When you see some of these prison officers, you can know they have a lot on their heads because so many expenses are accumulated and yet a hardship allowance, which I know is granted in many countries, is not offered here,” Samuels mentioned.
While commending the Government for implementing safety gear, which were added last year and this year, he is pleading for more to be done.
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