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Government wage offer 'disrespectful', says police federation

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

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YESTERDAY'S meeting between the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Jamaica Police Federation ended on an acerbic note as the six per cent wage increase being offered to public sector workers was again rejected by the federation.

Chairman of the police federation Sergeant Raymond Wilson said three wage and fringe benefit negotiations have taken place since August 28 and that Government has again disrespected members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) by offering nothing new.

Wilson, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer after the negotiations yesterday, said that the Government reiterated its position of a six per cent pay increase over the expected two-year duration of a new agreement.

“We found it quite alarming that after waiting eight months into the new contract period, and having been in the media hearing much about how our employer feels, made police officers feel that today's (yesterday's) meeting would have produced better results for us,” Wilson said.

“We find it to be disrespectful for the Government to be offering our police officers what amounts to be less than $1,000 in each year of the two-year contract, or when we break it down it amounts to less than seven Jamaican dollars,” he added.

Wilson would not state the amount in increase the federation is seeking, starting that he would prefer to talk at the table with the Government.

“When you start throwing around figures in the public, the public becomes who you are negotiating [with]. That may be the aim of the Government, but we will not go down that road. We will continue to go to the table,” the police officer told the Observer.

He noted that whatever is put on the table by the federation will be a figure substantial enough to cause improvements in the lives of law enforcement officers. He shared that the starting salary for a constable is $720,000 per annum. What that amounts to in monthly figures, he said, is $60,000 for an officer who is oftentimes relocated across the island.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, which ended its review of Jamaica's performance under the current Stand-by Agreement in September, warned that reform of the public sector cannot be delayed any longer.

The team said that there was broad agreement on the need to accelerate the public sector's wage negotiations, and that further delays pose significant risks and uncertainty to the Government's fiscal accounts.

IMF team leader Uma Ramakrishnan told a briefing at Jamaica House, at that time, that it was also acknowledged that wage negotiations should be anchored on a forward-looking medium-term compensation framework to sustainably reduce the wage bill and release resources for the much-needed social and growth-enhancing spending.

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