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JFJ urges Gov't to resolve police wage dispute

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) has thrown its support behind the request of rank and file police officers for improved pay and working conditions.

In a release this afternoon, the JFJ said the police, like everyone, deserve to enjoy an adequate standard of living, which includes liveable and fair wages and working conditions.

It said “If we are to demand the accountability and professionalism of police that the country deserves, then we must also demand that Government reasonably provide for their welfare”, adding that “poorly paid and frustrated officers are less likely to be effective at crime fighting or compliant with human rights".

JFJ further argued that the present wage offer does not keep pace with the costs of providing an adequate standard of living in 2017.

“This makes it difficult for the police force to attract and retain the most competent and qualified persons to serve as police officers. Jamaica's high crime situation requires that we keep the brightest and best, not deter them. The high level of attrition within the police force is a function of the low compensation, among other factors, and is unlikely to abate until wages and working conditions improve”, the release outlined.

The JFJ also went on to add that low wages also create an environment for corruption, exposing police to the daily seduction of bribes, adding that bribes will always remain attractive so long as officers are underpaid.

Moreover, it said it will help address the unfair disparities between the compensation of rank and file officers and senior police.

“It is unfair to offer constables, corporals and sergeants so little when, at the top of the command chain, assistant and deputy commissioners enjoy very generous salaries and perks, running in each case into several millions of dollars,” it continued to argue.

The JFJ said it appreciates the Government's financial limitations, outlining that successive governments have maintained a 7.5 per cent surplus required by its agreements with the IMF by cutting back expenditure (in real terms) on some social services.

However, it said this cannot be kept up indefinitely without seriously compromising people's welfare.

“The time has come, in JFJ's view, for some easing of the burden on those faithfully meeting essential social needs beneficial to all. This can be achieved by first reducing the well-documented waste and inefficiency within government and by ensuring that the burden is shared more equitably and fairly across society,” JFJ said.

JFJ said it has always demanded police accountability, and that part of that work involves demanding the fair and humane treatment of our police officers, as without this, efforts to fight crime and improve the professionalism of the force will be ineffective and unsustainable.

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