Police officers at odds over new wage deal

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 05, 2019

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There are increasingly loud whispers coming from the officers' rank of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) of a rift in the body that represents them, over the failure of the executives to sign a new wage agreement with the Government.

The Police Officers Association (POA) is one of a handful of public sector groups yet to sign a deal with the Government for the 2017-2021 contract period and some officers are blaming the leadership of the organisation for the delay.

“If they had signed a deal long time ago we would have received our money by now and we would be seeing the increases in our salaries,” one disgruntled officer told the Jamaica Observer.

“They are holding out for an increase in what we hear is a proposed one-off payment and we do not agree that this should be a deal breaker. At this stage we are considering moving a no-confidence motion against the executives because of their inept handling of this negotiation, which is dragging out to long,” claimed another officer.

But head of the POA Superintendent Catherine Lord told the Jamaica Observer that the executive is confident that it retains the support of the majority of the officers.

“I think we have more members who are confident in us and they expect us to negotiate in their best interest,” said Lord.

She admitted that the negotiations are deadlocked over an issue, but would not confirm if this was the one-off payment.

“There is a single item of the claim that we would like to have sorted out and once that is sorted out we can sign an agreement,” added Lord.

She said the Government has made an offer and the POA has submitted a counterclaim, but there is no date set for the parties to return to the bargaining table.

The POA represents members of the JCF from the rank of assistant superintendent to the commissioner, while the Jamaica Police Federation represents rank-and-file members of the force.

After almost two years of sometime heated negotiations, last December the Federation signed a heads of agreement with the Government for the contract periods 2017-2019 and 2019-2021.

Under the terms of the deal that have been made public, the rank-and-file members of the JCF received a 16 per cent increase in salaries and allowances over the four years in line with other civil service groups.

Following the signing of the agreement, Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke said that although the process was long and difficult, he was pleased that amicable agreements were reached on the vital components.

“The agreement covers a number of areas. Not everything has to do with compensation. There are certain things that are service-related, some related to conditions of work, and so forth, and we were able to find a combination of items that over a period of time, met the satisfaction of the members of the force,” declared Clarke.

Head of the Federation, Corporal Arleen McBean, later told reporters that the rank-and-file members were “quite comfortable” with the package that the Government had offered.

This has helped to fuel the concern of the disgruntled officers who argue that with their higher base salaries, they would be even “more comfortable” accepting a package similar to that agreed to by the rank-and-file members.


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