Cops now being paid overtime, says commissioner
IT appears the dispute between Jamaica Police Federation and the constabulary’s high command over the long-standing issue of overtime pay has now been settled as Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson confirmed on Tuesday that the cops have been paid what they were owed.
In an upbeat presentation at his annual devotion exercise streamed on Jamaica Constabulary Force’s YouTube channel, Anderson said that during 2023, “We got things done that couldn’t be done, haven’t been done.
“We put in place, finally, an overtime system. Not perfect, but people have been paid for the time that they work. It’s something that has been spoken about for a long time — we got that done,” he said.
A heated battle concerning overtime pay for rank and file members of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) came to a head when the federation sued the Government, claiming that its members were owed billions of dollars in outstanding payments.
In ruling on the matter in June 2022 the court ordered that by March 31, 2023 the Government should implement a system to capture overtime hours by members of the JCF.
In May 2023, at the police federation’s annual conference in Trelawny, Anderson had said the new Workforce Management Solution system to calculate overtime payment was being installed, and promised that members would be paid what is owed to them, noting that “if you earn it, you must get it”.
But two months after that promise, payments had still not been made, which prompted the Opposition in a statement to call for the Government and the JCF to honour the court’s order to pay overtime — for April through June — in July’s salary.
The Opposition further warned that failure to do so would risk demoralising the police force, which is essential to ensuring the safety and security of the nation.
Also, in a statement at that time, Police Federation Chairman Corporal Rohan James expressed disappointment in the high command’s failure to facilitate overtime payments for rank and file police personnel, despite the Government’s approval of a system to calculate and disburse these payments.
“Such actions undermine the morale and motivation of our hard-working officers who tirelessly serve to protect our communities,” he said.
Later that month, Corporal James was interdicted over remarks he made at a funeral service for a slain cop. Following a probe, the police commissioner directed that disciplinary action be taken against James at a Court of Enquiry. James was also interdicted from duty, with immediate effect, at three quarters of his salary.
Speaking at the thanksgiving service for the life of slain Constable Damien Blair at Old Harbour New Testament Church of God in St Catherine on July 15, 2023, James reportedly again chided the police high command for failing to make overtime payments to cops.
“Mark my word, and I also want to say to the high command and our commissioner, ‘God help you if the membership is not paid their overtime this month,’ ” James was quoted as saying, adding that the federation would not be “muzzled, intimidated, nor bamboozled”.
However, the federation announced in a release in November that James had resumed his duties as chairman of the federation with immediate effect, following a Supreme Court ruling.