The Jamaica Police Federation yesterday described as “an insult” the Government's offer of a 2.5 per cent wage increase and said it “will not be bullied” into accepting any package that does not provide its members with remuneration commensurate with the sacrifice they have been making for almost two decades.
President of the federation, Corporal Rohan James, told the Jamaica Observer following a meeting of the executive yesterday that a letter reflecting an outright rejection of the offer will be sent to Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke today.
“The meeting was held today and the Central Committee has determined that we will write to the minister of finance and reject the current 2.5 per cent that is being offered. We cannot continue to subsidise national security, and it's an insult as to what is placed on the table as against the current socio-economic condition that the membership currently faces,” Corporal James told the Observer.
The 2.5 per cent represents an incremental offer promised by the Government in light of a one-year delay in implementing a new public sector compensation structure.
Dr Clarke, in tabling the 2021/22 Estimates of Expenditure (Budget) at Gordon House in February, had said that, given the massive impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Government did not have the resources to begin the implementation of the new structure and to finance the country's economic recovery at the same time.
But yesterday Corporal James said such was the gravity of the situation that the executive felt compelled to act without taking the issue to a full meeting of its members.
“Without referring to the membership, based on what it is that has been coming to our attention, based on calls, members stopping us and interacting with us, it was determined that we ought not to waste any time and we should therefore communicate to the minister that we do intend to engage our salary package that was submitted and engage in the negotiation process,” Corporal James said.
“We have submitted a package, and it is a negotiation that we intend to engage [in], and once it is determined that whatever is substantive enough that can mitigate against the current economic hardships, then we are prepared to consider,” he said.
“We are not prepared to accept being bullied into something that will redound to modern-day enslavement and for us to work without being properly remunerated. For years we have borne with the economic shocks, and on numerous occasions we have been called upon to assist the country in moving forward; we have been doing so since 2002 and we are saying to the Government, having worked since 2008 to now, every single month in excess of 30 hours free of cost or by forced labour, we are saying at this stage we cannot continue to subsidise national security,” the federation head stated.
Asked what would happen if the Government refuses to budge, Corporal James said: “When it is that it reaches that point we are prepared to consider our options.”