Correctional Officers Union officials resign over vindictive transfers

Correctional Officers Union to severe ties with GWU as they are claiming that politically-motivated 'vindictive transfers' are being handed to prison warders

Correctional Officers Union president Manuel Cassar said that members had been handed transfers “left, right, and centre” with no valid reason being given
Correctional Officers Union president Manuel Cassar said that members had been handed transfers “left, right, and centre” with no valid reason being given

The committee members of the Correctional Officers Union have collectively resigned and have dissolved the union which is affiliated to the General Workers Union, alleging that politically-motivated “vindictive transfers” have been handed out to prison warders.

MaltaToday is informed that warders are being transferred irrespective of their political leanings, with the GWU failing to defend its members.

The seven union committee members, tendered their resignation on Friday and talks with the Union Haddiema Maghqudin are expected to take place on Monday with the prospect of joining it at the earliest. 

Speaking to MaltaToday, Correctional Officers Union president Manuel Cassar said that members had been handed transfers “left, right, and centre” with no valid reason being given.

“Being aligned with the General Workers’ Union, we are supposed to be given reasons when handed transfers, but this has not happened. I myself was transferred from the Corradino Correctional Facility in Paola prison to the forensic unit at Mount Carmel Hospital with no word as to why,” he said.

He said that those mainly affected by the transfers were supporters of the Labour Party, admitting also that supporters of the Nationalist Party have also been handed transfers.

The union lamented that it is unable to carry out its functions due to a lack of resources.

“The only room we had to operate in was reallocated and be have not been given a replacement. We have nowhere to work from,” the president said.

He claims also that the prison director Paul Debattista is uncooperative when complaints are put forward, calling him “arrogant”.

“When we try to discuss issues with the director, his response is:  ‘I’m the boss here, whoever doesn’t like it can get rid of me’, This is the arrogant way with which issues are handled” he said.

The union joined the GWU after legal amendments approved by Parliament in 2015 gave members of disciplined forces the right to join a trade union. While these unions can seek redress from the industrial tribunal, they are forbidden from resorting to any form of industrial action, such as a workers’ strike.

MaltaToday understands that the lax attitude of the authorities in charge of the Corradino Correctional Facility is resulting in lack of control over what is being brought in by prisoners – who are not all being treated equally – and an increase in smuggled drugs, alcohol and other objects.

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