Police demand wage meeting by Friday

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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THE Jamaica Police Federation (JPF) in a release Monday demanded that Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, meet with them by Friday to continue negotiations on a new wage contract.

The federation, which represents rank-and-file police up to the rank of Inspector, accused the Government of making a “mockery of the negotiations”, which have been going on since 2017.

“The Jamaica Police Federation demands that the Government of Jamaica stop the mockery of the negotiations process for the contract period 2017-2019 and continue the wage talks no later than Friday, September 7, 2018,” the release said.

The federation also claimed that the decision follows communications from the ministry that Dr Clarke would not be able to fulfilits request for a meeting on Friday to continue the negotiations, a position the federation described as unacceptable.

But up to Monday night, it appeared that the minister, who is currently in Barbados for the Sixth Special Meeting of Caricom's Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP), as well as today's Ninth Meeting of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on the Caricom Single Market and Economy, might not have been aware of the request from the federation.

COFAP is responsible for economic policy coordination and financial and monetary integration of Caricom sember states. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne.

In a statement from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service yesterday, Dr Clarke assured the Jamaica Police Federation that he will meet with them subsequent to his return to the island today with a view to moving the negotiation process forward.

In the meantime, according to the JPF Chairman Arleen McBean, the rank-and-file members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force have been experiencing “high levels of destitution and indignation because of the lackadaisical approach of the Government”.

“It is inconceivable that the Government of Jamaica believes that an overworked and underpaid police force portrays prosperity in an uncertain economic environment. This we classify as mockery encapsulated with lip service and empty promises,” she said.

She said that the rank- and-file police are “very restive” and annoyed with the situation, and, in the meantime, the federation will be holding a series of consultative meetings with its members to discuss the way forward.

The police are among 30 per cent of the public service which have not yet signed off on the 2017/2021 four-year wage agreement signed last year between the ministry and unions representing public sector workers.

The four-year agreement includes a five per cent increase for 2017/18, a two per cent increase for 2018/19, which have already been implemented, as well as a two per cent increase for 2019/20, which becomes effective next April, and another five per cent increase effective April 2020.

The compensation package has already cost over $201 billion and is expected to create the climate for Jamaica to meet the long-delayed International Monetary Fund target of a public sector wage bill restricted to nine per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

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